Donnellan to miss Cats clash as match-ban system kicks in
CYRIL Donnellan's dismissal in the All-Ireland final replay is coming back to roost this week as it will force him to miss Galway's first two games of the Allianz League.
Prior to last summer, suspensions for category II and III offences were time-based and did not carry into another calendar year, even if a player was sent off in an All-Ireland senior final.
But the new match-ban system for serious infractions that the GAA adopted at Congress last year changed that, and Donnellan is the first player to be affected.
The two-match ban Donnellan received carries over to his next league or championship games, which rules him out of this weekend's league opener against Kilkenny and Galway's second game against Clare in March.
The Padraig Pearses forward was sent off in the 42nd minute for swinging back at JJ Delaney in an incident which saw the Kilkenny defender need attention for a head wound.
Donnellan got a ban, which he did not appeal.
He was free to play in pre-season competitions like the Walsh Cup (he missed it through injury) and the inter-provincials.
They are not covered by the 'same code, same level' rule and Donnellan was one of Connacht's best players in last Sunday's victory over Leinster.
Manager Anthony Cunningham will also be without Andy Smith for the big re-match against the Cats, even though the Portumna man is affected by a different set of disciplinary rules after he was sent off in a Walsh Cup game on February 2.
Leinster's subsidiary competition only operates time-based suspensions, which meant Walsh got four weeks, but that still rules him out next weekend, though his suspension will be completed by the time Galway play their second league game on March 10.
The Tribesmen will also be without their high-flying St Thomas' contingent but Cunningham has already indicated that he will be throwing a wide net across their players after their All-Ireland club run finishes on St Patrick's Day.
"St Thomas' have a lot of fine players, their touch is very good, they're all young men as well. They have one more step and we'd all hope they'll win that," said Cunningham.
"James Regan and David Burke had a good game in the middle of the field (against Loughgiel)," he said, also singling out the form of Conor Cooney, Darragh Burke and St Thomas' barnstorming full-forward.
"Bernard Burke was on the Galway panel last year but couldn't commit through work commitments," Cunningham said.