Both camps happy with replay call
AGB manager Damien Redmond and Blessington’s Mick Murray were relieved figures after the epic encounter between their charges ended with the intervention of County Chairman Martin fitzgerald to rule that a replay was going to be had instead of the sudden death penalties after the first shoot-out ended level at 4-4.
This dramatic encounter tested both management teams to the limit with both making massive decisions in the face of tactical necessity and refereeing decisions that some agreed with and some didn’t.
AGB boss Damien Redmond said that neither team deserved to lose the game in such a manner and that the replay was the best option.
‘We got off to a slow start. Blessington opened us up through the middle. We were asleep, basically. Then we got one or two scores, chipped over a few frees and we got back into it,’ he began when asked his thoughts on the game.
‘We started driving them backwards instead of them driving us backwards. We made a couple of good subs in extra-time as well. Darragh (Culleton) came on and scored the free with his left foot straight away. He hadn’t even stretched. John Paul (Hurley) made a great catch and Daire Mac (McBride) turned your man for a free,’ he added.
There was feverish debate on the field before the penalty shootout and Redmond said that both sets of management wanted the replay from the start.
‘There’s no way that any team deserved to lose that on penalties. It’s GAA. It’s not soccer. Whoever came up with it, it’s disgraceful. Myself and Mick (Murray) wanted to do it (go to a replay), but the C.C.C. decided that it had to go (to penalties), and then Curtis (Geraghty) has to miss the penalty, if he scores it’s over. Terrible.
‘They played 80 minutes of football and then to have to go through that,’ he said.
Damien Redmond can point to any amount of his players for delivering massive performances but one of the first has to be Ciaran Hyland.
‘We dug it out in the end. That’s his (Ciarán’s) first game in four months and he literally drove everyone forward.
‘Jack Hamilton done brilliant on Eoin Keogh. Philip Healy was just tipping the ball over as he does. Taking him off? He was chasing ‘Goose’ (Barry Murphy) too much. You don’t want to be chasing ‘Goose’ at 39 years of age,’ he added.
Damien Redmond said that his team needed to get the ball into scoring position in the secondhalf of extra-time and that they did just that. He also lamented the fact that there weren’t more black cards.
‘We were three points down going into the last 10 minutes of extra-time. We spoke about getting the ball into positions where we could score and that’s what we did, thank God.
‘I’ve no issue with that (red card), but, overall, I thought the referee was very lenient towards Blessington. Garreth (Whelan) has to do his job but I thought there was at least three black cards in extra-time. It’s fair enough, Garreth has to do his job, and he did his job, but you need to be consistent. Black carding Ciaran O’Shea, that’s grand, I said that to him. Two seconds later Andy Maher was pulled down for the same thing and nothing,’ he added.
Blessington’s Mick Murray said that he would have to look at their free count and that missing a point to go four up late on was a key moment in the game.
‘Their game is a bit different, their possession from the backs, they were much better at us that that. We were poor on that.
I was disappointed. Our free take was massive, we have to have a look at it. Even though in fairness to Arklow they kicked some great scores when we pressed inside the 45, they kicked three or four great points from outside in the second half. They were great scores, scores that would win any game and you can’t defend them.
‘I just thought that when we went three points up at the end and ‘Boots’ (David Boothman) had the ball in there and he hit the post, I think that four points might have just got us over the line.
‘All day long we were probably giving them frees. I think their bread and butter was a lot of frees that they got.
‘I know they kicked some great points (from play) but they kicked some great frees and I think we turned them over stupid frees, and we had the ball out here, ‘Goose’ went down on it, lost it.
‘And when we had the extra man up, we should have capitalised on that, we should have dropped another one or two back, hold possession and work it up. We told them to do that, but sure...
‘I think both clubs were happy for the replay. No matter what, I can make all the excuses here but at the end of the day it’s a draw.
‘I was a bit nervous coming in, people were saying we had a bit more firepower, but no, they’re a good team, they are a possession team, they work well,’ he added.
Curtis Geragthy looks to escape the clutches of James Tyrrell.