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The 2010 Leinster Final Protagonists And Villains: Where Are They Now?

The 2010 Leinster Final Protagonists And Villains: Where Are They Now?
By PJ Browne Updated
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This Sunday, for the first time in 13 years, and for just the second time in 63 years, Louth will play in a Leinster football final when they face Dublin at Croke Park.

Their last appearance in the provincial final was an infamous game, one decided by an illegitimate goal credited to Meath forward Joe Sheridan.

Louth led by a point - 1-10 to 0-12 - in the 74th minute when Sheridan threw the ball into the opposition net. Chaotic scenes erupted after the final whistle with supporters spilling onto the pitch, some of them pursuing referee Martin Sludden.

The Tyrone man, who was escorted from the pitch by gardaí after being attacked, had awarded the goal without thorough consultation with his umpires.

Following the game, Louth manager Peter Fitzpatrick described Sludden as "Dick Turpin without a mask". In a statement from the GAA on the Monday after the match, it was disclosed that "the referee has stated that he made a mistake in awarding the Meath goal".

We've had a look at what the protagonists and villains from that game are doing now.

Martin Sludden

In 2011, Sludden took charge of just two championship games. He was dropped from the championship panel the following year.


11 July 2010; Louth manager Peter Fitzpatrick remonstrates with Referee Martin Sludden after the game. Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Final, Meath v Louth, Croke Park, Dublin. Photo by Sportsfile

Last year, Sludden was elected as the new chairperson of Tyrone GAA. He had chaired Tyrone's Competitions Control Committee for three years prior to being elected to the new role.


In 2022, his 29th year as a referee, he continued to officiate club games.

Joe Sheridan

14 January 2017; Meath goalkeeper Joe Sheridan in action during the Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup Group 3 Round 3 match between Laois and Meath at Stradbally, Co. Laois. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Aged 29, Sheridan was dropped from the Meath panel by Mick O'Dowd at the conclusion of the 2013 season. A little over three years later, he rejoined the Royals set-up as a goalkeeper under new manager Andy McEntee. He was Meath's substitute goalkeeper behind Paddy O'Rourke for the 2017 campaign. Late that year, he dropped off the panel, saying he was unable to commit fully due to personal and work commitments.

Speaking on The Sunday Game in 2020, Sheridan said that the GAA "should have made more of a stance on it and took it out of everyone's hand. After the game, it was a circus around what was going to happen. Watching the game, we could see it wasn't a goal."

Sheridan added that the hate mail he received following the final was "pretty severe".


"It was a letter received by my mother," he said.

"There were two letters and a lot of private messages that were sent to my phone.

11 July 2010; Players and supporters from both Meath and Louth confront each other at the end of the game. Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Final, Meath v Louth, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

"It is very hard for my mother who actually received the letter to open it - it was just addressed to 'Joe Sheridan, Seneschalstown'. It was rough stuff in the letter.

"You'd like to think that the people who wrote that stuff would take it back and wouldn't say those things now."

Sheridan was named as part of the Meath U20 management for the 2020 season.

He works as a financial adviser with Acorn Life.

Peter Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick stepped down as Louth manager after the 2012 season saying that it would be "selfish" of him to remain in the role any longer.

11 July 2010; Louth manager Peter Fitzpatrick urges supporters back to the stand and away from referee Martin Sludden after the final whistle. Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Final, Meath v Louth, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

The previous year, he was elected as a Fine Gael TD for Louth. In 2018, two years after being reelected, he quit Fine Gael, and announced his intention to run as an independent candidate at the next election. Fitzpatrick was elected as an independent in 2020.

He was elected as chairman of Louth GAA in December 2019.

Eamonn O'Brien

O'Brien was ousted as Meath manager three months after the dubious provincial victory.

"We won a Leinster title for the first time in nine years and we beat a Dublin team in the Championship for the first time in nine years," he told the Irish Independent after Meath county board delegates voted against him returning as manager.

"But, obviously, these things didn't count for enough. I'd have to say I am very surprised and disappointed."

He was succeeded as manager by Monaghan man Banty McEnaney.

Nigel Crawford

The Dunboyne man, who was Meath captain when they won the 2010 Leinster final, finished his inter-county career after the following season.

11 July 2010; Nigel Crawford, Meath, leads his team during the parade. Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Final, Meath v Louth, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE


On the tenth anniversary of the game, Crawford told the Irish Independent that he felt the GAA "abdicated responsibility" by not making a clear decision on whether the game should have been replayed.

"We took the decision and I was very strong on this opinion and still am, that it wasn't up to the players to decide the result or to decide to offer a replay or what happens," said Crawford.

"If Croke Park told us to come out and play a replay we'd have played it but we were not going to make that decision for them, absolute nonsense. And to think that Croke Park sat back and let us be the fall guys, they let us be the arbiters in this situation."

Crawford is vice president and corporate secretary of US multinational power management company Eaton.

Paddy Keenan

Keenan would have been the man lifting the Delaney Cup was it not for Sheridan's goal. That autumn, he became Louth's first and still only All-Star when he was named at midfield alongside Aidan Walsh.

15 October 2010; GAA Football All-Star award winner Paddy Keenan, Louth, is interviewed by RTE's Michael Fennelly during the 2010 GAA All-Stars Awards, sponsored by Vodafone. Citywest Hotel & Conference Centre, Saggart, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

He retired from inter-county football in 2014 aged just 29, at a time when "it was simply impossible and something had to give."

"I knew there was a huge injury or something coming down the tracks because my body was so seized up tight from sitting down all day, sitting in trains and cars and going straight out then onto pitches and just not getting the recovery," he said during a coaching and games webinar organised by Louth GAA during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.

"In hindsight, would I, if I had the choice, have given up the job to extend my career a couple of years? I probably would, in hindsight.

"You only have one shot at it. Would I have done it differently? Probably.

"But it’s hard to make those decisions. As a GAA player you can’t just focus on football. You have your career, your education and your job and that sort of thing outside of it."

He is now a director and financial advisor with Protection and Prosperity Financial Services.

JP Rooney

Rooney was the scorer of the only legitimate goal in the final. In the 63rd minute, with the game tied at 10 points each, the ball fell to Rooney on the edge of the large rectangle and he finished superbly past Brendan Murphy.


He retired from inter-county football in 2013, but continued to play for his club Naomh Mairtín. He called time on his club football career last year, aged 43, after winning Louth SFC titles in 2020 and 2021.

In 2016, he told the Irish Examiner that though Meath's 2010 win was an "injustice", he did not hold any anger about the game.

27 September 2020; Naomh Mairtin players, from left, Mick Fanning, JP Rooney and Conor Smyth celebrate following the Louth County Senior Football Championship Final match between Naomh Mairtin and Ardee St Mary’s at Darver Louth Centre of Excellence in Louth. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

"We should have been out the door," said Rooney.

"Looking back, we should have been four or five points ahead. At full-time, everything boiled down to frustration from players and supporters. You have one hand on the Leinster title and then it’s snatched away from you.

"There were 73 minutes on the clock and I was trying to waste time. At the time, I thought it was the right thing to do but it wasn’t."

He works as a financial adviser.

Aaron Hoey

The defender, who came on as a substitute in the final, was one of Louth's chief protesters after Sludden allowed the goal.

He retired from inter-county football in early 2013, and signalled his intention to become an inter-county referee.

"I can't think of many former inter-county players of recent times who have gone down that road which is a pity," said Hoey.

"Many current refs have been on the periphery and I've always felt greater involvement in the playing of the game at a higher level could bring better refereeing standards."

21 May 2017; Louth selector Aaron Hoey during the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Round 1 match between Louth and Wicklow at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

He served as a Louth senior football team selector under Colin Kelly and Pete McGrath.

In the 2017 RTÉ Scannal documentary about the 2010 Leinster final, Hoey said: "Someone asked me before, 'What was the highlight of your career?' I said, 'The 'Leinster final 2010'. Then they asked me, 'What was the lowest point in your career?' I answered, 'The Leinster final 2010'. That just sums the whole lot up."

The pitch invaders

Two of the Louth fans - Joseph Conlon and Paul Grimes - were charged with attacking Sludden after the final whistle. They pleaded not guilty, but were fined €1000 each in 2012.

Sludden had initially made a complaint to gardaí but later withdrew it. He did not give evidence during the court case.

See Also: Paul Flynn Responds After Donal Óg Cusack Dig At Tailteann Cup

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