LAOIS boss Justin McNulty was left fuming by an “unacceptable” second half decision which he claimed proved the turning point in Derry’s three point victory at a sodden Celtic Park on Sunday.
Michael Wilson reports
McNulty’s team were somewhat fortunate to lead 2-7 to 0-9 at half-time after Ross Munnelly and Damien O’Connor had taken advantage of some shocking Derry defending but were still in control at 2-8 to 0-12 in the 47th minute when Munnelly tapped over for what appeared a three point lead. However the half-forward’s shot, - which clearly sailed over the bar - rebounded over the posts’ back stanchion and back into play with Padraig Clancy rolling his tame follow-up wide of the gaping goal with the expectation the point had been scored. However, neither umpire appeared sure if the ball had gone over the bar and after prolonged consultation with both, referee Joe McQuillan signalled a wide to dismay of the O’Moore county .
To rub salt into Laois wounds, Derry corner-back Dermot McBride went straight up to pitch and got himself on the end of flowing move to cut the visitors’ lead to the minimum and signal a marked shift in momentum. Even the 58th minute dismissal of half-forward James Kielt for a needless second yellow card, couldn’t derail the Oak Leaf surge but Mcnulty was in no doubt as to the game’s pivotal moment.
“I’m very disappointed,” said McNulty after the game, “I’m disappointed for the lads, they put in a huge effort but I think it is certainly a game we can learn from and a game we can search deep inside ourselves and ask hard questions about and aim to rectify things.
“It was a tough game but games are turned on little incidents and there was a hugely important incident in the second half which was critical and it is happening too often in the GAA, it is not acceptable.
“This is so often the story and and it is not acceptable, that’s all I’m saying. Turning points in games happen around little incidents and it is not acceptable.”
Derry: Thomas Mallon; Ryan Ferris (0-2), Chrissy McKaigue, Dermot McBride (0-1); Charlie Kielt, Mark Lynch (0-1), Sean Leo McGoldrick; Patsy Bradley, PJ McCloskey (0-1); Barry McGoldrick, James Kielt (0-3, 2f), Enda Lynn (0-1); Coilin Devlin, Emmett McGuckin (1-3, 2f), Eoin Bradley (0-5, 3f). Subs: Raymond Wilkinson for B McGoldrick, 50mins; Benny Heron for R Ferris (inj) 53mins; Daniel Heavron for C Devlin, 64mins.
Laois: Eoin Culliton; Cahir Healy, Kevin Meany, Peter O’Leary; Darren Strong (0-1), John O’Loughlin, Conor Boyle (0-1); Brendan Quigley, Colm Begley; Ross Munnelly (1-3, 2f), Gary Walsh (0-3, 3f), Billy Sheehan; Ambrose Doran, Padraig Clancy (0-1), Damien O’Connor (1-0). Subs: Denis Booth for Cahir Healy, 34mins; Colm Kelly (0-1) for A Doran, H/T; Padraig McMahon (0-1) for G Walsh, 49mins; Kevin Coss
Full coverage in Tuesday’s Derry Journal