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Meath boss Andy McEntee makes spitting allegation after Kildare defeat

Meath manager Andy McEntee. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Meath manager Andy McEntee. Image credit: Sportsfile.

Frank Roche

Meath manager Andy McEntee has alleged that one of his players was spat at during the Allianz Football League Division Two semi-final, prompting a mass brawl that marred the closing stages of Kildare’s victory.

At time of writing, Kildare county board officials could not be contacted for a response.

Jack O’Connor’s home team deservedly took the spoils by 1-14 to 0-14 in a dramatic finish, and with that promotion to the top tier next season.

But the game is liable to deliver a heavy cost to both rivals ahead of their Leinster SFC campaign, with multiple injuries in both dressing-rooms compounded by a clutch of red cards.

Kildare’s Luke Flynn had already been dispatched on a straight red card, following an off-the-ball incident on 50 minutes that also resulted in a yellow for Meath sub Brian Conlon.

But then, with Kildare protecting a five-point lead in injury-time, an ugly fracas involving many players erupted close to the Meath dugout.

When Derry referee Barry Cassidy had concluded his consultation with fellow officials, he brandished five cards – all bar one of them to Meath men.

Full-back McGill and the already-booked Conlon were given straight reds, with yellows for Meath goalkeeper Andrew Colgan, his teammate Ethan Devine and Kildare sub Alex Beirne.

And afterwards, when asked about the prospect of two players being suspended for their Leinster SFC opener (against Carlow or Longford on July 4), McEntee didn’t mince his words.

“Don't talk to me about the sending-off. We had a player who got spat on in the face,” the Meath manager claimed, “and he ends up getting sent off, so I mean ... how many players were involved in that? (A) how many players were involved in it? (B) Who started it? And what was the outcome?”

The card count from that late melee, he added, “seems slightly imbalanced to me. But obviously I'm biased.”

Asked if McGill was the player who had been spat on, McEntee confirmed he was, adding: “Conor McGill is not a fighter. Somebody spits in your face, what are you going to do?”

He was sceptical on the prospect of seeking to overturn the red cards.

“There's no appealing it, you're wasting your time appealing. That's always been my experience. If the referee says he struck, he struck,” he concluded.

Even without the red mist, it proved a hugely attritional contest and a potentially damaging one for both squads.

Kildare suffered three injuries – early goalscorer Jimmy Hyland and Kevin Feeley departed with hamstring trouble while Paul Cribbin was stretched off with an ankle injury and was taken to hospital for an assessment.

Meath, meanwhile, lost two of their key operators – Bryan Menton (ankle ligaments) and Donal Keogan (AC joint injury).

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