Cork paid the price in having to forfeit home game, but will the Dubs follow suit against Kerry?

Cork and Monaghan lost their opening league games last weekend, when they had to concede home advantage for breaching Covid regulations. Now it's the Dubs and Down turn to travel.
Cork paid the price in having to forfeit home game, but will the Dubs follow suit against Kerry?

Cork's Paul Walsh competes in the air with Kevin Feely of Kildare during the national league game in Thurles last weekend. INPHO/Tommy Dickson

IT’S the turn of All-Ireland football champions Dublin and Down at the weekend to pay the price for breaching Covid restrictions.

Instead of the Dubs hosting Kerry in the match-of-the-day at Croke Park on Sunday at 1.45, the six-in-a-row winners must troop off to Thurles to engage the old enemy.

Down should be meeting Meath in division 2 north on their own patch in Newry, but that game has been moved to the Athletic Grounds in Armagh.

Last weekend both Cork and Monaghan had to forfeit home advantage in their respective games against Kildare and Armagh and the pair duly lost.

Should Kerry and Meath make it back-to-back wins it will leave Croke Park officials feeling vindicated in their decisions.

Kildare had four points to spare in a 2-12 to 0-14 victory while Armagh, promoted to the top tier at the end of last season, were all-the-way 1-16 to 1-12 winners in the Ulster derby, which was played in Enniskillen.

The top of the table division 1 south encounter is made even more appealing by the exploits of David Clifford in particular last weekend, when Kerry destroyed Galway.

The game is live on TG4, who once again fell victims to the annoying tendency of the Dubs changing their team just before throw-in in the opening tie against Roscommon at Dr Hyde Park.

The broadcasters were all poised for the start only to realise, when Dublin broke from their huddle that they had four alterations to the listed team.

It’s not the first time the Sam Maguire Cup holders have pulled a stunt like that though there’s nothing in the rules preventing teams from this course of action once the ‘right’ team is handed to the referee before the start.

You could only imagine the fuss made by SKY Sports if Premier League teams adopted the same attitude as the Dubs, but, then again, it wouldn’t be tolerated, just as it shouldn’t be here either.

Dublin, however, live in their own little bubble and basically don’t give a hoot about anything or anyone else once their own plans aren’t interfered with.

Tyrone’s Sean Hurson is the man in the middle and he will be hoping for a less dramatic afternoon than his Tipperary counterpart, Derek O’Mahoney, endured in Roscommon.

He awarded three penalties to the Dubs, two which came under the umbrella of the new rule governing cynical fouls close to the posts.

O’Mahoney got it right for the first, when Paddy Small was pulled back by Brian Stack, but the jury is still out on the second involving Fergal Lannon’s challenge on Dara Mullin.

But, it was the third and final decision which irked a lot of people because the referee was clearly wrong in his interpretation of what is and what is not a foot block.

Niall Daly’s outstretched leg to stop Brian Fenton’s shot was perfectly legitimate because there was no danger to the kicker.

A foot block, though, is another matter entirely and involves the blocker attempting to jam his foot against the ball as the shooter pulls the trigger.

It has the effect of making the ball the meat in the sandwich and the impact could have serious consequences for the kicker, in particular, but also the blocker.

Injuries like broken bones and ligament damage are common and referee chiefs need to clarify the difference.

FIXTURES: SATURDAY: NFL Division 1 North: Donegal v Monaghan, Ballybofey, 5pm (Barry Cassidy), eir sport; Armagh v Tyrone, Athletic Grounds, 7pm (David Gough), eir sport.

Division 2 North: Westmeath v Mayo, Mullingar, 3pm (Noel Mooney), eir sport.

Division 2 South: Laois v Cork, O’Moore Park, 7pm (Barry Judge), GAAGO.

Division 3 South: Offaly v Limerick, Tullamore, 3pm (John Gilmartin); Tipperary v Wicklow, Thurles, 4.30 (Seamus Mulvihill).

Division 3 North: Derry v Fermanagh, Owenbeg, 5pm (Paul Faloon); Cavan v Longford, Breffni Park, 7pm (Cormac Reilly).

SUNDAY:

NFL Division 1 South: Dublin v Kerry, Semple Stadium, 1.45 (Sean Hurson) TG4; Galway v Roscommon, Pearse Stadium, 2pm (David Coldrick).

Division 2 South: Kildare v Clare, Newbridge, 2pm (Fergal Kelly).

Division 2 North: Down v Meath, Athletic Grounds, 3.45 (Niall Cullen).

Division 4 North: Leitrim v Louth, McDermott Park, 3pm (Patrick Maguire); Antrim v Sligo, Casement Park, 4pm (Conor Dourneen).

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