Michael Duignan, the chairman of Offaly GAA has strongly condemned the individuals responsible for verbally abusing and pushing referee Barry Tiernan during the Leinster Club SFC Round 1 match between Tullamore and Summerhill on Sunday.
Tiernan, who officiated the game, had to be escorted from the Glenisk O’Connor Park pitch following Summerhill’s 1-9 to 1-7 victory over Tullamore. Initially, Tiernan awarded a penalty to Tullamore in the sixth minute of stoppage time, but he changed his decision, leading to frustration among the supporters.
The Offaly champions were trailing by two points when Tiernan first awarded a close-range free kick after a Summerhill player was penalised for touching the ball on the ground. However, after consulting with his umpires, Tiernan reversed his decision and awarded a penalty kick.
As Paul McConway prepared to take the penalty, a scuffle broke out between players from both teams, causing further delay. After consulting with one of his linesmen, Tiernan reverted to his initial call, giving Offaly a free kick instead of a penalty.
With 13 Summerhill players forming a defensive line on the goal, John Furlong's shot was ultimately blocked, and the game concluded.
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Duignan expressed his dismay over the incident during the game on RTÉ Radio, labelling it as nothing short of 'disgraceful.' "I can't deny it. Disgraceful incident," he said.
“There was a bit of controversy at the end where the referee awarded a penalty and then it was overruled, and obviously, the players were frustrated, and they were remonstrating."
Duignan acknowledged that while the scenes were disappointing, he expects swift action to be taken. “The players were well away from the ref coming off the field. The Tullamore team [is] a very sporting team, just disappointed, which you would be, but somebody came in from the terrace then and pushed the referee from behind,"he added.
“Terrible. It's a very, very tough job, and I would have had my arguments over the years with refs, but you wouldn't dream about laying a finger on a referee.
"So look, I'm very sorry it happened here today, and I'm sure it'll be dealt with in due course.”