Cooney laments Leinster final "watershed"

July 17, 2010
Christy Cooney has described last Sunday's Leinster football final debacle as a "watershed" for the GAA.

The game ended in chaotic scenes with Louth supporters attacking referee Martin Sludden after he mistakenly awarded a late winning 'goal' to Meath's Joe Sheridan.

The GAA top brass were subsequently criticised for failing to offer leadership on the issue, leaving the Meath county board and players to decide whether or not a replay should be granted. But Cooney has defended Croke Park's handling of the matter, insisting that their hands were tied.

"It would be fair to say that we would have all liked to have seen a replay. Meath decided otherwise," he told RTE.

"Within rule there was no other avenue for us to go; no other avenue for the Leinster Council to take."

The GAA president said he was outraged at the actions of a minority of Louth supporters who ran onto the field to attack the referee after he blew his final whistle.

"We're responsible in the end to show an appropriate punishment to people who have belittled our Association and who have transgressed in a serious way with the actions they took against our officials on the day, and ban them from our Association as would be the appropriate action.

"I think last Sunday was a watershed for our Association, to see in an undignified way the behaviour that took place after the game, and it reinforces now - to everybody - that we need to ensure that patrons stay off our pitch at the end of matches, that we need to do our presentations in the middle of the field, and we need to give our players and officials the opportunity to leave the field in dignity and to celebrate in dignity," he added.

Cooney is satisfied that Croke Park acted correctly in the wake of the crisis.

"I believe we have acted very responsibly since the event took place last Sunday. I believe we gave appropriate advice to the Leinster Council. We gave appropriate advice to both Meath and Louth on how to deal with the matter and I was quite surprised to hear and to read some of the comments that came from both counties.

"I don't believe there was any lack of support. Croke Park weren't in a position to make any decision on this. All we could do was offer support and advice. The match was under the jurisdiction of the Leinster Council."

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