MEATH BOSS ANDY McEntee says full-back Conor McGill was spat on by a Kildare player in the incident that sparked a full-scale brawl at the end of their Division 2 semi-final defeat.

The Royals were left counting the cost of defeat after an ankle injury to Brian Menton and shoulder problem for Donal Keogan forced both men off the field during the fast-paced and hard-hitting encounter.

Things got worse in the closing stages when a melee kicked-off in front of the Meath bench that saw McGill and substitute Brian Conlon sent-off for striking offences. They’re likely to be suspended for the beginning of their Leinster campaign as a result.

“Don’t talk to me about the sending off,” said McEntee after the game.

“We had a player who got spat on in the face and he ends up getting sent off so I mean…how many players were involved in that? A) how many players were involved in it, and B) who started it? And what was the outcome?

“Conor McGill is not a fighter. Somebody spits in your face, what are you going to do?”

Conor McGill is sent off.

Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

The Royals also had Andy Colgan and Ethan Devine booked after the brawl involving almost every player on the field. Alex Beirne was the sole Kildare player to be disciplined with a yellow card.

“It seems slightly imbalanced to me,” remarked McEntee. “But obviously I’m biased.”

He felt there would be no point appeal the red cards as their Leinster championship begins on 4 July against Carlow or Longford.

“There’s no appealing it, you’re wasting your time appealing. That’s always been my experience. If the referee says he struck, he struck.”

With just three weeks to go before their championship opener, both Keogan and Bryan Menton are injury doubts at this stage.

“Keogan [had] an AC joint [injury], maybe separation, that doesn’t look good. Bryan Menton [hurt] ankle ligaments, so we’ll assess them during the week.”

Meath paid the price for a poor start to the game as they trailed by six points at half-time.  Six unanswered points at the finish brought them within three in stoppage-time, as Kildare needed Mark Donnellan to pull off a couple of important saves in the finale. 

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“We weren’t at the pitch of it all the first half I’m afraid Kildare dictated the pace and physicality of the game, we weren’t winning the contests, and the scoreboard probably reflected that, although we had a number of chances, we had four scores from 10 attempts I think.

“I don’t see any particular reason for it, it was an important game,” the Royals boss added. “You don’t have to be off by much in games like this, if you’re off a little bit it shows. It looks like a lot.  

“Kildare were certainly at championship physicality, unfortunately I don’t think we matched them until it was probably too late, and even though we probably could have snatched something.”

Originally published at 16.51

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