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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Keegan call was my own: Deegan

Replay referee says he should have black-carded John Small

Ref Maurice Deegan issues Mayo’s Lee Keegan with a black card in the All-Ireland SFC final replay. Pic: Sportsfile
Ref Maurice Deegan issues Mayo’s Lee Keegan with a black card in the All-Ireland SFC final replay. Pic: Sportsfile

Maurice Deegan says he was not influenced in any way by media coverage of Lee Keegan's running battle with Diarmuid Connolly in his decision to black card the Mayo defender in this year's All-Ireland SFC final replay.

Indeed, the Laois official has claimed he had no prior knowledge that their personal rivalry had spawned such national controversy.

Having watched the match back, Deegan said that his only regret was not issuing an early black card to Dublin defender, John Small.

Comment on Keegan's robust methods of marking of Diarmuid Connolly dominated the two-week build up to the replay, with several former Mayo players pointing accusatory fingers at the tone of some of the coverage, an attempt as they saw it, to paint him as the aggressor.

Fairly

"I don't read anything - coming into the matches beforehand," Deegan explained yesterday in Croke Park where he was appearing at the launch of a new referee's handbook.

"You're only human. So as regards coming into matches, I read nothing. I look at nothing.

"I don't think it's right and it's fair either for the teams involved or the supporters or whoever. I just think that really and truly, we just have to treat every game the same and every player as fairly as we can."

Referring to the Small incident, Deegan admitted: "The one I would regret looking back on my final was about five or six minute into the game, John Small was on a run down the sideline.

"And from where I was positioned, I knew he was after tackling Andy Moran. From where I was standing, I couldn't really see it properly.

"I went into the linesman and he didn't see it properly. And I even asked him again after that.

"We weren't a hundred per cent sure. And if I had anything from that match, that's the main regret - that I didn't black card Johnny Small.

"I'm just being perfectly honest now. Because if I had black-carded him at the time, it probably would have set a better tone to the game.

"I was very disappointed with myself that I missed that. Apart from that, I was happy enough."

Ignoring media narratives in advance of such a match is, Deegan admits, "very hard".

"And the only way you can hide away is, you have to be very mentally strong."

Deegan also warned that the "the top teams in the county have taken it to another level," - one that make it harder to referee.

"And that's going to be the same again next year. And we're under no illusions as referees what to expect.

"But in saying that, there is going to be … I would say the level of intensity has risen between the likes of Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone, Dublin, Donegal.

"But," Deegan concluded, "you can see there's seven or eight teams there that are taking it to a different level altogether."

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