Offaly boss Leo O'Connor fumes over ‘absolutely cynical hurling’ after All-Ireland U-20 final loss to Cork

Offaly U-20 hurling boss Leo O’Connor didn’t pull any punches when bemoaning some “absolutely cynical hurling” from Cork following their six-point All-Ireland final loss to the Rebels, 2-22 to 3-13, in Semple Stadium today.

While insisting that the Faithful were “beaten by a better team”, O’Connor was unhappy with some of the decisions in the first half – particularly a robust tackle to attacker Cormac Egan when bearing down on goal in the 12th minute.

Cork full-back Shane Kingston was shown a yellow card by referee Chris Mooney as a result, much to the annoyance of the large Offaly support, while Egan was forced off at half-time with suspected “broken ribs”.

Dan Ravenhill slotted away the resultant penalty but there were a string of decisions which O’Connor contested in a hard-hitting first-half.

“One or two things happened in the first-half, absolutely cynical hurling and that leaves a bit of a sour taste. But look, we were beaten by a better team,” a frustrated O’Connor said.

“Cork physically dominated us in the second-half, that 10 minutes after half-time when they really pushed on. Fair play to them, there were a better team than us today.

“They showed it on the scoreboard, and that is the way it is. But that cynicism. An Offaly player (Dan Bourke) went through with 15 minutes to go, pulled straight to the ground. The penalty in the first-half.

“There are things that happen and it is not our responsibility on the sideline. And all we can do is ask questions. As they wear on the sleeve ‘give respect, get respect.’

“It is just very frustrating. We had three players rounded Cork defenders, they had no one between them and goal and three times they were pulled down. One of them was a penalty.

“Refereeing was in my house all my life. I am not giving out about the referee. But I am saying you’ve got to question the cynical nature of what went on in the first-half today.”

When those comments were put to Cork counterpart Ben O’Connor, the former Rebel star wasn’t having any of it and he insisted that Offaly would have acted in the same manner if the roles were reversed.

“If they got the chance, they’d probably do the same thing. It happens in games. You do what you have to do to win,” the Cork boss said.

“And if you’re going to be looking at things like that after, you can go through them with a fine-tooth comb and there’s lots of mistakes on both sides. Look, we won by six, job done for Cork.”

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