FR O’NEILL'S are almost certain to appeal the dismissals of Mark O’Keeffe and Billy Dunne who were red carded during the course of their All-Ireland Club IHC semi-final with Connacht champions Tooreen at Tullamore last Saturday.
Referee Chris Mooney from Dublin sent both players off in the second-half of their four-point victory and the majority in the attendance deemed the decisions to be harsh.
Tooreen had a player dismissed as well but if O’Neill’s lose their two players for the final against Tullaroan from Kilkenny they will be considerable absentees.
O’Neill’s team coach James O’Connor was delighted with the victory but believed it was overshadowed by the two red cards.
“Firstly, I am delighted with the outcome. We came up here today expecting a battle and we got that.
“Obviously, the sending off of the two lads has taken some gloss off the win but I have no doubt that the club will appeal and that would be the right thing to do.
“I honestly thought they were both harsh and maybe their red card was harsh too but we’ll have to wait and see.’’ O’Connor praised the character of the team when the big questions were asked of them after the two players were dismissed.
“When Billy Dunne was sent off after Mark it did not look good for us but I know these lads, they will battle and battle.
“The last 10 minutes were massive, they came at us and we had to defend so much. A lesser team would have lost that game today but they have that inner belief in themselves, that character that can take you a long way.
“We dug it out there in the end, they tested us but we came up trumps and anything less from the boys and we’d have lost.’’ Now it’s Tullaroan from Kilkenny in Croke Park in the All-Ireland final, another potentially massive battle that O’Connor is looking forward to.
“Yes, we’ll re-focus now, we’ll re-group and prepare ourselves. Yes, Tullaroan will be tough opponents again but we’ll be ready and we won’t shy away.
“It’s a massive achievement for this club to be going back to Croke Park again for another All-Ireland final.
“ I know these players, they will be ready and they will give it everything to bring this title back to their parish.’’