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O'Byrne final ref Kinsella to handle Dubs' opener

IN A perverse twist, Laois referee Eddie Kinsella has been handed control of the Allianz Football League opener between Dublin and Cork - just days after coming under the critical microscope of Sky Blues boss Jim Gavin.

In the immediate wake of Saturday night's O'Byrne Cup final, Gavin took issue with what he perceived as Kinsella's failure to tackle cynical fouling during the latter stages of extra-time.

Reflecting on Denis Bastick's straight red card following a late melee, the Dublin manager stressed he had no issue with the decision but added: "There was a blatant foul on one of our guys, which was happening quite regularly, and the referee wasn't doing anything about it. But I'm sure his assessor will look at that."

And then yesterday afternoon, speaking at the Allianz League launch in Croke Park, he claimed Bastick was struck both before and after his own offence and intimated that these players should also have been sent off if the rules were being applied consistently.

Yet, only hours later, the GAA released its national fixtures list for next weekend with confirmation that Kinsella would referee the top-flight encounter between the Dubs and their Leeside rivals at Headquarters.

Meanwhile, Cork manager Conor Counihan has suggested Dublin have been handed too much 'home comfort' because of an extended Spring Series that will see five of their seven league matches staged at Croker.

Dublin already had four home fixtures but this has been extended after a deal was brokered to switch the Kildare/ Dublin clash to the capital because of capacity issues with St Conleth's Park.

"It is probably a bit much. But you can see the balance of that in terms of are there many people saying we don't want to play here?" Counihan mused.

"From a support point of view, it is (an advantage to Dublin). But that's a good test for the opposition.

"If you can overcome that sort of partisan situation, it will stand you in good stead."