Embarrassing end to Minor tie should have been avoided
There was much controversy in Taghmon on Saturday afternoon when St. Martin's and Mogue O'Rahilly's finished level at 2-7 each in the Wexford People Minor football Premier championship final.
When Mark Rossiter kicked an equalising point in additional time to bring the sides level, depriving St. Martin's of the double-double for the time being at least, one expected that the final would go to a replay, given that this was the teams' initial meeting.
But after a thrilling encounter between two quality footballing sides, the controversy erupted as to whether the game would go to a replay or if extra-time would be played.
The two teams gathered in midfield after referee John Carton blew the final whistle not knowing what was to happen next, while the large crowd waited in anticipation of extra-time, although many were questioning this fact, believing the game would move on to a replay.
On the match programme, there was no mention of extra-time being played in the event of a draw at the end of normal time, while referee Carton also had received no notification regarding extra-time in such circumstances.
Many of the high-powered Coiste na nOg officials seemed to be in disarray as to what should happen. The officials were of the opinion that there should be extra-time, claiming the clubs had been notified by e-mail of this, although the clubs themselves expressed innocence of such a situation, not knowing if extra-time should be played or if the game was going to a replay.
However, after many controversial messages relayed through supporters, the game will now go to a replay which is a decision that the players deserved, as it would have been wrong to have forced extra-time on the competing clubs in such circumstances.
According to the Official Guide a final that ends in a draw goes to a replay. Bye-laws may have been introduced willy-nilly to cover certain situations, such as extra-time, but at the end of the day it's the Official Guide under which the championships are organised.
One cannot reach a stage of introducing laws and regulations as one moves along, as it's only at county Convention where change may be made.
At the end of the day why force young players into playing extra-time on drawing in their initial meeting? It didn't happen after the Minor Roinn 1 final, so why should it have even been contemplated after the Premier? They should be afforded the same opportunity as their adult counterparts of having a replay.
Referee Carton, who handled the game excellently, must be admired for making it quite clear that he knew nothing regarding extra-time and was never officially informed of such a scenario in the event of a draw.
These players have played right through the summer months and qualified for both Minor finals, so it was belittling of Coiste na nOg to try to enforce a bye-law regarding extra-time on players in November, in a final that was delayed so much that another seven days would be of little consequence to have a replay.
It was both embarrassing and frustrating to witness such a cock-up at the end of a county final. Surely, in this day and age, all pre-match arrangements should be in place.
This was clear bungling on the part of Coiste na nOg. The clubs and the players deserved better. They certainly deserved more than under-age officers at loggerheads as to whether extra-time or a replay should be the ultimate decision. This was a most embarrassing scene in front of supporters, clubs and players.
Meanwhile, this is a time of year when G.A.A. personnel have their sights set on higher office in the Association.
St. Martin's clubman, Sheamus Howlin, who has served as Wexford and Leinster Council Chairman in the past, along with many high-powered committees within the Association, may be a likely candidate in the forthcoming presidential race.
Howlin, who finished runner-up last time round, is expected to make a clear decision within weeks. Another Wexford officer may also be on the move as it's believed that Derek Kent, whose term as the county's representative on the provincial council is ending this year, may be handed the post of Chairman of the Leinster Council Health and Safety committee, which would see him have responsibility for all grounds in the province. It's going to make for a few interesting weeks.