1 Hello Darkness My Old Friend
THE penalty-shoot out took place in near darkness at the ironically-named, Solar 21 Park.
Only for some light spill from the adjacent astro-turf, it would be near-impossible to continue.
You couldn’t blame the Mayo League for this, other than to say that they might consider installing floodlights, (especially now that Kerry FC have joined the League of Ireland and Mayo would seem to be the next natural applicant to follow.)
The earlier match, which kicked off at 11.30am, also went to penalties which delayed the kick-off of this one by fifteen minutes.
Attendees who stayed for both matches got incredible value for a tenner.
2 Refereeing Consistency
JOHN MULROE had a good final as did his team of Tom Jennings and Martin Regan.
Mick Walsh was the fourth official.
One of the biggest complaints players, officials and spectators have is when a referee is inconsistent. The big call he had to make was the sending off of Celtic’s Oran Groarke.
It’s very harsh on the youngster, to pick up a second yellow for continuing to take a shot after the whistle, but he had to go. KKU’s Jack O’Connor had been carded earlier for a similar offence, and to not card Groarke would have been wrong.
The fact that he was booked earlier made the punishment harsh, but when you are on a yellow card, you have to be extra careful.
3 Swashbuckling Style of Play
AT all times both these sides were trying to score.
Every pass, every possession, every tackle, was all about scoring.
There was no possession football; holding it and passing it sideways or backwards, to wind down the clock.
It was attack all the way. It was fantastic to watch and a credit to both sets of players and their management teams.
4 James McGrath’s Penalty Miss
McGRATH is a fantastic player and he was one of KKU’s best on the day, and has been all season. He took their second penalty in the shoot-out and drove it confidently past Stefan Hester. When everyone had taken one, and the tie was still level, they had to go again.
James sent his second over the bar. It was cruel on him and KKU.
But that is what happened, and James will be an even better player after it.
Everyone in the ground felt for him, especially all the Celtic players and management I spoke with after the game. The sickening thing about the sudden-death part of penalties is that it usually comes down to one kick going either wide or being saved.
If everyone had to go again, I’m sure many more would have missed too. But that’s not how these things work, and it looked ominous for KKU when Jordan Loftus stepped forward immediately after McGrath’s skied effort.
5 New Press Box at Solar 21 Park
THEY have moved the press box at Milebush. It is now at the centre of the back of the stand, is double glazed now and has a heater. There scribes were warm as they took notes on Sunday. The mini-bar isn’t in yet, but there is room for it. The scribe with the camera got his feet wet on the sideline, but he is a lost cause anyway.
6 Remember to Play the Ref’
WHEN you step onto the pitch to play a match, there is the opposition to be faced as well as climatic and ground conditions. But there is also the referee and how he handles the game. On Sunday, when John Mulroe carded Jack O’Connor for kicking the ball away after an offside flag, it was obvious that he was not going to tolerate such behaviour throughout the remainder of the match.
Oran Groarke is an excellent young midfielder for Celtic and, to his credit, he is not afraid to put in a tackle. Sometimes, and especially on heavy pitches, tackles can look worse than their intention, and Oran received a yellow card for one such on Sunday.
When Oran kicked the ball away in frustration, after the ref’s whistle had gone, John Mulroe had no discretion in issuing the second yellow.
You have to watch what the referee is punishing; how soft or strict he is on certain laws of the game; and play accordingly. Oran Groarke’s punishment for kicking the ball away was harsh, but the ref’ had established a precedent earlier.