LS, odds on Rhode for the All Ireland Club? (No disrespect meant to Clara. Personally hope they can put in a massive performance)
I'll field this bit first, since this is straightforward. 25/1 to win Leinster (maybe a touch of value in that) and 100/1 to win the All Ireland.
LooseCannon wrote:One lad from Ferbane has videos on his Facebook page criticising Smyth, by showing the Brady goal, and build up to it, and also one where Smyth made a refereeeing error last year. That's not acceptable to be lambasting an official in an open forum like that, where he's defenceless.
They're fairly bitter about Scott Brady's goal, then again, how their own goal was given is a mystery to me.
On the core topic raised here, I don't know that I agree that putting a video up on facebook is "lambasting" - it's providing evidence to substantiate what happened. People can then draw their own conclusions. As for Fergal Smyth being defenceless, he's a hell of a lot less defenceless in that forum, where he can either ignore it, reply, or indeed take action if he deems himself to have been defamed, than if someone talks about him in a pub. And I guarantee you that there will be plenty of that going on for a long time to come. A certain referee from Shannonbridge will tell you that......
As for being bitter, Ferbane people are no more bitter than any club would be if they were cheated by a referee in that fashion I would argue - and I'd go so far as to say that there are a lot of clubs where the referee might have been subjected to physical abuse after an incident like that. I'm not saying that would be acceptable, but there have been far too many incidents in Offaly were referees have been abused in one form or another, and there was a hell of a lot less provocation than a ridiculous incident like this. I was hugely impressed with the number of Ferbane players who shook his hand afterwards - I'm an old geezer now and I would never dream of abusing a ref in any form, but there's no way I would have shook his hand after that. If I was on the field when the final whistle blew, I'd have been sure to get as far away from him as possible in case I would be tempted to say anything.
While I'm a Ferbane native myself and that's no secret, I don't think it's unreasonable to draw a distinction between incorrect decisions that are made in the heat of the moment, where a referee has to interpret an incident he has seen, and the type of error he made at the end, which was either wilful sabotage or else flagrant ignorance of the highest order. It simply can't be anything else.
Up until the final moment, these were the big decisions in the game:
(1) The Ferbane goal - a clear push in the back to knock Aidan over, which led to the ball being either spilled or shovelled over the line. I don't know which it was, and I'd forgive a referee not being sure here either - it was a split second call, that you could only make with the assistance of umpires, and he did that.
(2) David Kelly's yellow card. For me this was an immaculate hit, shoulder to shoulder, feet on the ground, as you would teach a lad to do it. Smyth didn't agree - and again, this was a split second call that can easily be got wrong, even with the best intentions in the world. Clara missed the free, but it had a huge bearing on the game - David is not a dirty player, but he is a physical one, and he was stepping back from players out of fear from then on. He was taken off early in the second half, because he's not a player who can play with a yellow card.
(3) The Aidan Keenaghan Black card - again, this was hugely consequential, as he is the true leader of this Ferbane team. It was a fractionally late hit, definitely a free, and possibly a yellow if Smyth deemed it to be aggressive. It could only be seen as a black if the Clara man (can't remember who) was going for a return pass and Aidan was checking his run. To the Clara player he was static, so this was a wrong call - but as with the above two decisions, it was a split second one and human nature means it can be got wrong. I've no problem with this either, on that basis.
(4) The Carl Stewart Black Card - here too, I'm inclined to think that the black card was wrong. As above, to me it was a free only, but maybe a yellow if Smyth deems it to have been overtly aggressive. Personally I didn't think it was. However it can only be a black if the player is brought to ground. Arguably this is the most incorrect decision of the four I've highlighted, in that not alone does he have to misread the incident, he has to get his rules wrong. I can't for the life of me figure out which of the five black card infringements this could possibly be. It wasn't a trip, he didn't drag him to the ground, so what black card foul could it be?
However if that was the end of the controversy, I'd say fair enough. Four dubious calls, all significant in their own way, two for and two against either team.
The goal was completely different however. Ferbane clearly committed an initial foul, and the free was then rightly brought forward. All as it should be so far.
However Smyth then had his back turned (he may have been talking to a Ferbane player and thus taking him out of the game, but I'm not sure of this bit) and Brady took a quick free, somewhere between five and ten metres ahead of the new spot. Now if Smyth was watching, and got the spot wrong, I'd say okay, he made an error of judgement. However he wasn't watching, he didn't see it, so he couldn't know whether it was the right spot or not. Neither could he know whether Brady kicked the ball or threw it in like a quarterback, whether players were pulling each other out of the way, or anything. He couldn't know any of that, yet he allowed it anyway - and I cannot get my head around a referee awarding a score he didn't see. He clearly didn't ask his umpires either, because if he did, they'd have told him what happened and it wouldn't have been allowed.
And ultimately, this is the reason why I feel entitled to be annoyed with Smyth in a way that I haven't been with any referee in my entire lifetime so far, possibly excluding PAddy Russell's decision to tell Colm Quinn that there was more time to play in 2002 against Kildare in Nowlan Park, and then blow up on the kickout. What happened on Sunday wasn't an "honest mistake", and while only Fergal can know what he was thinking at the time, there is no excusable explanation for what he did. I've heard a lot of theories about his own personal views on our club, some from Ferbane people and some from outside, but that's all speculation - however there isn't a single poster on the board that could honestly tell me that they'd have no issue with a referee if he did this to their club.
Finally, there is the bigger point that Ferbane shouldn't blame the referee, and instead should look at their own failings. From the point of view of self-development, I really hope they do, and based on their character, I expect they will. These are genuinely good lads. And there is no doubt that on another day, we'd have been out of sight by the 60th minute. Joe Maher's two goal chances that he went high with are the obvious regret, the lull we experienced for half the game when we went without scoring, and the inexplicable decision to leave Cian Johnston, who is arguably the form forward in the county so far this year, on the bench until the 53rd minute. No other forward scored from play, and in the 12 odd minutes he was on the field, he won two frees, kicked a point himself and set up Colin Kenny for another score.
HOWEVER - the name of the game is not to play to the absolute best of your ability all the time, or else you lose. That's not how it works - the objective is to play better than your opponents, or to be more accurate, to score more than they do. On the form that both teams showed on Sunday, neither would have come within ten points of Rhode - but on the day in question, all they had to do was outscore each other. And until that late goal, Ferbane did that. Even if you take the view that Aidan Keenaghan's goal was dubious (and if it was ruled out, then it would have been a penalty) Clara still had time to recover from that score. We only had about a minute, and in that time, we scored a perfectly legitimate point (and I was bang on line with it - it started out on line with the post, and then curled in - for Davy Walsh, that should have been the easiest call in the world - but that's another matter) and never got another chance.
That Ferbane could have been better is indisputable - but it's not the case that what happened ceases to be an injustice on account of that. If someone breaks into my car and steals €100 from the glove compartment, the guards won't say to you that "it's your own fault, you had the chance to work paid overtime two weeks ago and you didn't take it". Clara hit wides and missed chances too - does that mean neither team deserves to qualify for the final? Playing below your potential doesn't suddenly mean that you aren't entitled to fair play, and Ferbane definitely didn't get that.
I should add here that this isn't anything against Scott Brady, or Clara. I know Scott, I like him as a footballer and as a person, and I made sure to shake his hand after the game. He may not even have known if he took the free from the wrong spot, I've no doubt he was fired up and just acted on instinct. Clara went out to play the game honestly and fairly, and I've never known them to be any other way. I think they'll find it tough against Rhode in the final, but if they're good enough to beat them, then they'll have earned their crown and will deserve it. But what I've written above still needed to be said.