– Emma Duffy reports from Croke Park
AS HE STEPPED down from the Cork job after their All-Ireland SFC exit at the hands of Dublin, Ephie Fitzgerald made his feelings known about the officiating in today’s All-Ireland semi-final.
Cavan’s Maggie Farrelly was on the whistle in the clash which Dublin won by six points, and it was one which saw cards aplenty.
Cork had Ciara O’Sullivan and Eimear Meaney sent to the sin-bin in the second half, while three in-a-row chasing Dublin lost Niamh Collins for a 10-minute spell.
“I’m certainly not happy with the officiating,” Fitzgerald said. “Now, I can say this because I will be stepping down after this. I’ve four years done and I think it is time for a new voice.
“But Ciara O’Sullivan was sent off there. That’s the third time Maggie [Farrelly] has sent her off in three matches and she doesn’t know herself what she went for. Stuff like that.
The tackle needs to be defined, I think. That’s not taking from Dublin’s victory on the day. They did deserve it but I just do think that the tackle needs to be defined or the LGFA going forward are wasting their time.
“We don’t know what a tick is, we don’t know when they are being ticked, we don’t know if every foul is a tick or whatever. I don’t know.”
Captain Sinéad Aherne and substitute Caoimhe O’Connor hit the key goals for Dublin, while the Rebels had just three names in the scoresheet in Orla Finn, Doireann O’Sullivan and Eimear Scally.
Of their 0-11 tally, 0-3 came from open play.
Fitzgerald stressed afterwards that he didn’t think his side were nervous, but says they definitely didn’t finish the game strong enough.
“We were in the game,” the Nemo Rangers clubman continued. “It was still a draw ten minutes into the second half so the two sendings-off probably interrupted the flow of our game maybe a little bit, I don’t know.
We certainly didn’t perform in the last 20 minuets when Dublin took over and they were very, very strong physically when they ran at us.
“We didn’t cope with that very well but having said that, Áine O’Sullivan had a chance that whistled past the post. Dublin went down then and got a goal. Small margins again. That would have put us two points up but we don’t have any complaints.
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Eimear Meaney was one of the Cork players sent to the sin-bin.
Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO
“Dublin are a fine team. They are physically very strong. I thought the game was a bit closer than the scoreline suggested but I am very happy with my girls. I couldn’t have asked for any more of them. They gave everything and that’s it.”
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When asked if that O’Sullivan missed goal chance was a crucial moment, he added:
“Well, it was one of the key moments. Who is to say that Dublin wouldn’t have come back and scored. I’m not sure about that.
Doireann [O’Sullivan] had a chance early on and we had a two-on-one when she [Farrelly] blew for a free in the first-half when through on goal. But there you go. That’s life.
He admitted that the 10 minutes Mourneabbey defender Meaney spent in the sin-bin was massive in the end. Cork found hard to settle and cope with Dublin’s extra player coming at them. That was ultimately the difference.
And on the final, Fitzgerald acknowledges that Dublin are double All-Ireland champions and will be strong favourites. Galway have a lot of “pace and power,” however.
“Who knows? It will be an interesting final but you would have to say that Dublin will be strong favourites to win it,” he concluded.
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