Tommy Wogan and Andy McEntee shake hands after the game.

Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Kevin O’Brien reports from O’Moore Park

THE MAN PATROLLING the sideline for Carlow last night was Tommy Wogan, with the selector standing into the hot-seat for suspended manager Turlough O’Brien.

O’Brien was slapped with a 20-week ban for using “threatening conduct” towards referee James Bermingham at the end of Carlow’s one-point defeat to Down in Division 3 in March. 

Coach Steven Poacher and star midfielder Brendan Murphy were hit with 12-week suspensions for their roles in the same incident.

Last-ditch appeals by the trio to the GAA’s Central Appeals Committee (CAC) were dismissed earlier this week which precluded them from having any involvement in last night’s heavy Leinster SFC quarter-final loss to Meath.

Poacher and O’Brien watched the game from high in the stand, not far from where suspended Offaly boss Stephen Wallace took in their loss to Wicklow at the same venue a year earlier.

Speaking after the 15-point defeat, Poacher strongly criticised the length of the bans handed out by the GAA. 

“The suspension was absolutely ludicrous,” he said. “I never spoke about it but there was plenty of media coverage in the build-up to today.

“There was probably more media coverage about our suspension than there was about any suspension in the history of the GAA which is phenomenal for a Division 4 team.

“It’s phenomenal that we would generate that interest, but maybe we ruffled a few feathers last year and people didn’t obviously enjoy that.

Carlow manager Turlough O’Brien and coach Steven Poacher during the 2017 championship.

Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

“The suspension was ludicrous, I’m not going to go into it in great detail but it was gut-wrenching to be honest and sickening to tell you the truth. 

“The crime didn’t fit the punishment. I don’t want to go into details but any sane human being that would have watched the video and read the referee’s report would know that.

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“I’d describe it as laughable, that’s the best way to describe it. James (Bermingham) was back out there tonight (as linesman in the Dublin v Louth game) and good luck to him.  

“It’s our names that been tarnished through the media. Mud was being slung at us for it. We were absolutely destroyed in the media.

“How any intelligent professional person could look at the video and look at the report and gauge that we deserved (suspensions of) 20 weeks, 12 weeks and 12 weeks, it’s insane.

“It’s absolutely insane. The rules are ridiculous. The problem is that referees now are writing the rule in their report so there’s no way out.”

Carlow lost leading scorer Paul Broderick to a rib injury during the first quarter and Poacher felt it was a major mental blow for his team.

“Losing Paul Broderick so early in the game was a huge loss to lose a man like that. People probably don’t realise the impact that Paul has on the group. Even from a psychological point of view, he’s huge.

“He was joint top-scorer in the National League last year with Gary Walsh and he’s pivotal to us. Losing him is the equivalent of Monaghan losing Conor McManus so that was massive.

“I think he picked up a bit of a knock last week in training, a bit of a bruised rib. Whether it affected him early in the game, I don’t know the details on it because we had no communication with the dug-out, we didn’t know what was going on. We were just there as supporters today. It was disappointing to see him going off.

“Obviously not having Brendan (Murphy) coming into the game was huge too.”

Carlow will be carefully monitoring the round 1 qualifier draw on Monday, where they’ll be one of 16 teams in the pot which includes Monaghan and Tipperary.

With just two weeks to go before the do-or-die  clash, will they be able to lift themselves in time?

“We’ll have to.”

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