IT WOULDN’T BE the GAA if a season didn’t pass by without controversy.

This year saw its fair share, with the black card, verbal jousts and scoring messes adding to the seasonal intrigue.

Here, in no particular order, we focus on the 12 big GAA controversies from the 2016 campaign.

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Christy Ring Cup scoring mess

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The Christy Ring Cup final between Meath and Antrim had to be replayed when it emerged that there was a scoring error when the sides met at Croke Park in June.

Referee John O’Brien calculated the final score at 2-18 to 1-20 in favour of Meath but Antrim team delegates and media recorded the game as a draw, 2-17 to 1-20.

Following checks, it was agreed that the game would be replayed and it went ahead three weeks later at Croke Park.

In a cracking encounter, Meath ran out 4-21 to 5-17 winners in extra-time to get their hands on the silverware again – and this time for keeps.

The Laois seven subs saga

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Laois had to replay their All-Ireland SFC qualifier against Armagh after using seven subs in the first game at O’Moore Park.

It was an astonishing administrative cock-up but thankfully from a Laois point of view, didn’t prove too costly.

At the second time of asking, Laois made no mistake to advance as Armagh failed to take advantage of their boardroom reprieve.

Brolly blasts McGeeney

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Pundit Joe Brolly is rarely short of an opinion or two and he went to town on Kieran McGeeney as Armagh were dumped out of the Ulster senior football championship by Cavan.

Former Armagh boss Paul Grimley took Brolly to task, describing his criticism of McGeeney as ‘poisonous.’

In the best traditions of a GAA spat, Brolly kept the story rumbling by hitting back, labelling the Armagh county board as ‘spineless’ after Orchard County officials complained to RTÉ.

Aidan O’Shea goes to ground

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

As Mayo looked to bounce back through the qualifiers after a shock Connacht semi-final defeat to old rivals Galway, they had a large slice of luck against Fermanagh.

With six minutes left, Mayo were down by a point when Kevin McLoughlin launched a ball towards the Fermanagh goalmouth.

O’Shea ran out to contest it with Che Cullen but went to ground when it appeared there was minimal contact.

Cillian O’Connor converted the resultant penalty and Mayo survived, before going all the way to an All-Ireland final.

Kevin McManamon’s hit on Peter Crowley

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

This is one that referee David Gough won’t look back on with too much fondness.

With Dublin leading by a point, Kerry’s Peter Crowley ventured upfield before he was clattered by Kevin McManamon. 

It was a clear frontal challenge but referee Gough failed to spot the offence and allowed play to continue.

At the other end of the pitch, Diarmuid Connolly nailed the insurance score and Gough was pilloried by Kerry fans as he left the pitch. 

Diarmuid Connolly v Lee Keegan

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Mayo claimed that Lee Keegan was the victim of a media campaign to blacken his name in the build-up to the All-Ireland final replay with Dublin.

Many former Dublin players were featured in the media, urging the replay referee, confirmed as Maurice Deegan, to keep a close eye on Keegan during off-the-ball exchanges with Connolly.

After scoring a brilliant first half goal in the replay, Keegan was then black-carded following a tussle with Connolly.

Sparks tend to fly when Keegan and Connolly collide – and a renewal of acquaintances in 2017 is very much anticipated.

The black card

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

It has its critics but it seems the black card is here to stay.

Former Offaly manager Eugene McGee was instrumental in getting the black card introduced in the first place and he continues to defend the controversial initiative.

Fans, players and media alike are far from convinced, however, and it’s the inconsistency in the black card’s application that has proven most frustrating.

Many black card offences are missed or blatantly ignored, while on other occasions we’ve seen black cards handed out when they shouldn’t have been.

Newstalk miss out

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Newstalk were the big losers in the latest GAA media rights carve up.

RTÉ and Sky Sports retained their privileges for the next five years under the new deal but Newstalk have lost out in the broadcasting of live championship games.

Not surprisingly, Newstalk had something to say about it, and questioned RTÉ’s use of state funding to secure exclusive radio rights. 

Newstalk, who first secured the rights to live GAA commentary in 2011, will instead be restricted to live flash score rights.

Player of the year voting

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The GAA/GPA Opel player of the year awards are voted for by the players themselves in both codes.

This year, Austin Gleeson won the hurling gong as Lee Keegan was named footballer of the year.

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Tipperary, home of the All-Ireland hurling champions, and Dublin, who won the football, as their nominees lost out.

In these three-way races, Tipp had two players nominated, likewise the Dubs, and the feeling is that a ‘split’ vote may have cost their men.

Pádraic Maher and Seamus Callanan lost out to Gleeson, while Keegan pipped Dublin pair Brian Fenton and Ciaran Kilkenny.

Connelly and Holmes air their dirty linen

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Over a year since they were ousted by player power in Mayo, Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes had their say in an explosive interview with the Irish Independent.

There were some startling revelations in the 5,000 word piece, as the O’Shea brothers, Seamus and Aidan, were singled out along with Alan Dillon and Rob Hennelly.

It was an unedifying end to the Mayo football year but perhaps expected after they fell short in another All-Ireland final.

Many will agree that Holmes and Connelly are entitled to their opinion but their claim that it’s in the best interests of Mayo football can surely be disputed.

Dublin ladies denied All-Ireland final point

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The 2016 TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football final was marred in controversy when Dublin’s Carla Rowe had a legitimate first half point chalked off.

Rowe’s effort clearly went between the Cork uprights but was waved wide by umpires.

HawkEye was not in use at Croke Park and adding to Dublin’s sense of injustice was the fact that they lost the final by a point.

An appeal was later ruled out by Dublin officials but they have moved to ensure there is no repeat, with a motion calling for HawkEye’s introduction put forward for consideration at next year’s Annual Congress.

Loughnane slams Galway and Cody

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ger Loughnane’s never been one to shy away from expressing an opinion.

This summer, he aimed both barrels at the Galway hurlers following their second half Leinster final capitulation at the hands of Kilkenny.

In his newspaper column, Loughnane labelled Galway manager Micheál Donoghue as Fr. Trendy, a reference to a former Dermot Morgan character.

Later in the year, Loughnane turned his attention to Kilkenny, insisting that Brian Cody is outstaying his welcome as Noreside supremo.

We’re sure to hear plenty more from the controversial pundit next year, in print and on TV.

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