Last May between four and five thousand Mayo supporters descended on the Big Apple for the first round of the Connacht Championship, excited, anxious, expectant, is this going to be the year? Mayo supporters are a rare breed; they keep on supporting despite so many setbacks. I bet the New York GAA board and the pubs in Mid Manhattan wish Mayo had to travel every year. The performance levels grew as the tests became stiffer and Mayo found themselves in an All- Ireland semi final replay in Limerick above all places. I find this defeat particularly hard to take because we simply did not deserve to lose to Kerry. What is even more challenging to accept is that a team we were five points up against with three minutes left on the clock or a team we gave a hiding to by 16 points last year are going to be All- Ireland champions, will anything break for us to claim back the Holy Grail?
Instead of planning for a third final in a row, James Horan is probably spending his evenings and weekends playing with his children. As a unit I really do not think they could have given any more, every little detail was planned to perfection; the players were in immaculate shape physically and psychologically. Unfortunately it is the outside influences you cannot control. I have no doubt Cormac Reilly is a nice man and he did not arrive in Limerick with any hidden agenda despite the fact that it was his call that got Lee Keegan sent off in the drawn game in Croke Parke (he was the linesman that day in case you did not know ). I find it strange the powers that be selected a referee for the replay who they clearly admitted made a howler after rescinding Lee Keegan's red card. The rumour mill has gone into overdrive suggesting Reilly’s wife is from Kerry, which makes the decision absurd to appoint him if it is true. I have watched the replay on Sky+ four times and unfortunately I did not get to see it all as my Sky+ box had not allowed for extra time. It does not get any easier the fourth time. For what it’s worth here is a somewhat unbiased account of what went on in Limerick and the time in which the incidents happened
Barry Moran was in a clutch with Anthony Maher on the sideline when Donnacha Walsh grabbed him aggressively around the neck, If I am not mistaken the third man in in a row was meant to be yellow carded. No punishment given to anyone.
Johnny Buckley shouldered Seamie O’Shea in the chest, Kerry get the free.
Cillian O’Connor and Shane Enright both got yellow cards for grappling on the ground, what the cameras missed was Aidan O’Mahony ploughing into O’Connor while on the ground, another third man in offence.
Very soft free given to David Moran when Seamus O’Shea did very well to track him, resulting in a simple point for Kerry.
Peter Crowley went head first into Colm Boyle’s chest in front of the stand, a stone wall free for Mayo for barging, the free given to Kerry.
Shane Enright hauled Cillian O’Connor to the ground for a dead cert black card which would have meant a red card after his yellow in the fifth minute, penalty given, Kerry should have been playing with 14 men from now on in.
Enright again levelled Aidan O’Shea when he set up Cillian O’Connor for Mayo’s second goal, a yellow card offence which meant Enright should have gone a second time, no action taken.
Eamon Fitzmaurice takes off Enright, probably amazed he has not been sent off.
Jason Doherty hand trips Aidan O’Mahony, the rules state that’s a black card offence.
Donnacha Walsh wrapped himself around Doherty to pull him back, again a black card offence.
Kevin McLoughlin bounced the ball twice, O’Reilly oblivious and he gets away with it.
Alan Dillon fouled Anthony Maher and Reilly clearly blew for a free. He let Maher hand pass the ball to Mark O’Shea and play to go on.
Robbie Hennelly’s kick out went over the sideline and into the arms of Eamon Fitzmaurice who threw the ball 10 metres forward to Michael Geaney who took the line ball 10 metres forward from where it went out.
Geaney clearly crossed the line with his kick in front of Maurice Deegan, a foul called encroachment, should have been a hop ball.
When the line ball eventually found its way to O’Donoghue he was very well tackled by the Mayo defence and dived to the ground in the area, penalty given to Kerry.
Colm Boyle cut through Johnny Buckley, should have been a Kerry free and a yellow for Boyle.
Andy Moran broke free from his new marker Pa Kilkenny won the ball and was clearly pushed in the back by Kilkenny which should have been a tap over for Cillian O’Connor instead the ball went up the other end and Kerry got the score.
Reilly pulled Ger Cafferkey for an alleged foul on Kieran Donaghy for a simple Kerry score, it should have been a free out if anything.
Barry John Keane was given an advantage by Reilly, got his advantage and got a shot off but screwed it wide, Reilly brought play back and gave Kerry the free which they scored.
Colm Boyle broke from midfield and got pulled back by Peter Crowley, a black card offence, Crowley was amazed he got away with it.
Aidan O’Shea lucky to stay on the field after his forearm caught James O’Donohue in the jaw, no free given
Fourth minute (ET )
A crazy free given when Kevin Keane out muscled Donaghy to win the ball, Mayo were on the ascendency at this stage and Reilly single handily helped Kerry get back in the game.
Eighth minute (ET )
Barry John Keane clearly dived in front of the Mayo goals for another Reilly Howler, it should have been a free the other way, it got Kerry back on level terms.
At this point my recording ran out but I’m sure there were more poor decisions, Declan O’Sullivan wrestled Alan Freeman to the ground in the second half of extra time but escaped punishment. Let me get something straight, it’s not Kerry I’m annoyed at; they played to the boundaries of which they were let by the referee. Instead of talking about the epic that was the two games and how much the players put in, the whole country was talking about Cormac Reilly. Reilly made a shambles of the game and most certainly cost us a place in the final. Mayo could have won this game by seven or eight points with a different official. He should never be let referee a game again, how could the Meath county board condone his pathetic performance. He ruined the dream of a county starved of success. I hear he’s been picked to ref the All-Ireland hurling final replay and he’s already given “Kerry” a 21 yard free.