Collins admits red card error
July 25, 2005
Cork referee Michael Collins has admitted that he erred in sending off Tyrone's Stephen O'Neill in Saturday's stormy Ulster football final replay at Croke Park.
O'Neill, who was Tyrone's best forward on the day, was dismissed in the 61st minute for a shoulder charge on Armagh corner back Andy Mallon. Collins brandished a yellow card, followed by a red, which suggested that O'Neill had been booked earlier. However, that was not the case and the Clonakilty official admitted this afterwards.
"He has accepted that he has misread his notes - he did not give O'Neill a preliminary yellow card," said referee's spokesman Fr Seamus Gardiner.
"When he checked his own notes he found he had made a mistake and O'Neill should not have been sent off. I was talking to him on Saturday night and he was terribly, terribly disappointed. Any referee would be disappointed to make a mistake but especially in a game like this at Croke Park.
"But that does not take from the fact that Michael remains one of the top football referees in the country."
It's widely accepted that the dismissals of O'Neill and Peter Canavan within a few minutes of one another cost Tyrone victory and manager Mickey Harte was understandably frustrated with such crucial decisions.
"You've got to ask yourself how could this happen in a game where there are so many officials," he fumed.
"It's very hard to comprehend how a referee can take the serious step of sending off a player on a second yellow card without being absolutely sure of the first booking. There's nothing we can do about it now but we're deeply unhappy over that decision, plus the sending off of Peter Canavan, which we will be definitely appealing."
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