independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Duffy enters 'Bitegate' row

GAA director general Paraic Duffy

GAA director general Paraic Duffy has said it's a matter of record that Donegal footballer Paddy McBrearty was bitten during the controversial league match against Dublin in April.

Defending the Association's handling of the incident in the wake of criticism last week from Donegal manager Jim McGuinness, Duffy admitted it was damaging for the GAA that a player was bitten and nobody was held to account for it.

Speaking at the launch of RTE's coverage of the 2013 championships Duffy (pictured) said the comments of GAA president Liam O'Neill on the matter, which were criticised by McGuinness, were "absolutely fair".

McGuinness was responding to O'Neill's expression of disappointment at the failure of all the evidence on the case not being presented to the Central Hearings Committee meeting that cleared a Dublin player of a three-game suspension proposed by the Central Competition Controls Committee, who investigated the allegation.

"I understand Jim McGuinness' concern for his player. I absolutely understand that," said Duffy.

"I think the comments Liam made in the aftermath were absolutely fair. I think it is important to put it into context.

"To put a few facts on the record. A player was bitten in an Allianz League game. That's not good for the Association.

"That's not something that anybody wants to see happening.

"Unfortunately it wasn't picked up on video, TV or by the match officials. It was put into the public domain and the CCCC tried to investigate it as best they could and did," added Duffy.

"They laid a charge before a player. That was dependent on evidence being available. The only evidence was from the player himself. He chose not to come and therefore the case collapsed."

Duffy is adamant the disciplinary process could not have worked any better on this matter.

"In terms of the procedures and the process I think it couldn't have been handled any better. It's one of those things, and I can understand it from the player's perspective and Jim McGuinness outlined that.

"From the GAA's perspective it's unacceptable that a player did suffer a bite and no one was held to account and I think everybody has to have a look at the part they played in that. But in terms of our processes I believe they were robust, they were fair, and I think we couldn't have done any more.

"The case collapsed because of a lack of evidence and that is the reality of it."

Duffy maintains the CCCC were "dealt a poor hand" with this case in terms of the evidence available.

"They tried to deal with the case as best they could. They laid a charge down, but short of somebody admitting it and owning up to it, the only other way of producing an outcome was that the player would attend and say, 'I was bitten by...' He chose not to do that and that's the player's right.

"The point that Liam O'Neill made afterwards was, very simply, that he was disappointed and I would share that disappointment because nobody has been held to account for what happened to Paddy McBrearty."

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