Down boss McCartan bemoans crucial 'phantom' Kildare point
WHEN you lose by 10 points, it's hard to nitpick over officiating but James McCartan definitely had a point.
After 59 minutes of yesterday's All-Ireland qualifier with Kildare in Páirc Esler, his team were just a point behind Kildare, having forcefully seized the momentum away from the visitors with a stirring opening to the second half.
Podge Fogarty spun a shot from roughly 30 metres out which sailed over the upright and, to almost everyone in Newry, wide of the post.
The umpire signalled a point though and despite some attempted intervention from one if his linesmen, David Coldrick agreed.
James McCartan went bananas on the line but his pleas were ignored. Coldrick felt the call was right.
"We're disappointed that when the game was in the mix, there was a call about a point," McCartan said, forlornly rather than with any apparent anger.
"There was a point in it...but I suppose when you lose by the margin we did, it's hard to look back and blame one particular incident.
"But the game was in the melting point and it as disappointing. They have difficult decisions to make but the linesman had a perfect view of it."
"I don't know why he called the referee over to tell him he was right. If you're going to call someone over, it's to change something. But look, when you lose by that much, it's hard to put the emphasis on one sole incident."
"It's hard straight after to analyse it correctly, your emotions are high.
"But it was a big fillip for them at the time. We were well beaten, we'll stop moaning about it, it's just in our heads at this moment."
Again, with 10 points in it at the end, it's hard to say to what extent Down would have capitalised.
They had brought the match back level a few minutes previously, thanks almost exclusively to a barely mobile Benny Coulter.
"We put him up here full-forward, we had to change some things," McCartan explained. "He was in his old position and we put some fear into their defence. If we could put some ball in, we could have a chance to win the game. But the ball then dried up."
Yet Kildare had replied with two points in a minute before Conor Laverty put one between the teams again prior to the Fogarty incident.
"If we had won by a point it would have been rather controversial," Jason Ryan acknowledged, "but that adds somewhat to the game.
"I'm not a massive advocate of Hawkeye, I think it costs a huge amount of money to be spending on something, and then we're always talking about the referees.
"I think if that money was spent on the referees rather than the Hawkeye would it help our game more nationally rather than just spending it in one stadium?
"And sure you can't have it everywhere, that's not going to be feasible."
On a recurring theme, Ryan was asked again about the incident which ruled Paddy Brophy out of yesterday's match, a collision with Meath full-back Kevin Reilly in the Leinster semi-final two weeks back.
Previously, the Kildare manager had stated that Reilly had intended on "making an impact" on his player, an accusation which the Meath captain strenuously denied last week.
Mick O'Dowd, the Meath manager, had brushed off the claim, but added "the great thing about Dublin/Meath matches is there's no whinging afterwards."
Yet Ryan was adamant: "Kevin was very physical. The Meath players are very physical. When you're physical and you have that physicality you play within the rules and you go for it and fight for every ball.
"In that incident, it was what it was."
McCartan, meanwhile, was asked whether he would, after four years in charge of a seemingly declining team, stand down.
He replied simply: "Ask that question another day."