PLAYERS from Kildare and Laois are facing heavy suspensions arising out of the ugly melee which marred their O'Byrne Cup quarter-final in O'Moore Park yesterday, though several others who were involved but not punished by referee Syl Doyle may escape censure because of the lack of video footage of the game.
The five who were sent off in the 30th minute after Kildare's Ronan Sweeney was felled behind the referee's back -- Keavin Meaney, Billy Sheehan and Peter O'Leary of Laois, plus Kildare pair John Doyle and Morgan O'Flaherty - are certain to be hit with four-week bans at the very least, though some could yet miss eight weeks action depending on the nature of offences as outlined in Doyle's report.
However, the brawl, which erupted after referee Doyle hopped the ball, oblivious to the Sweeney incident directly behind him, featured some 28 players -- a large portion of whom could feasibly have joined the above quintet for an early shower, but whose transgression went unspotted by Doyle or his assistants.
In the second half, Laois defender Denis Booth and Kildare sub Pádraig O'Neill went for isolated offences which could both be seen as being as serious as those in the first-half ruckus.
However, it remains to be seen whether Leinster Council will write to either county board to request their own video footage of the match as there were no commercial cameras in situ in Portlaoise yesterday.
"It will be dealt with the same as any other case," Leinster Council chairman, Seamus Howlin told the Evening Herald. "The referee's report will go to the CCC and if there are any suspensions to recommend, they will recommend them. It would be the same whether one player or five players were sent off."
If the seriousness of the melee is comparable with the Parnell Park brawl between Dublin and Meath on April 20th 2008 in the National League -- and photographs and eye-witness reports indicate that it is -- both teams could be slapped with hefty suspensions which could affect their early league campaigns.
On that occasion, a 'mere' five players were given their marching orders by referee Paddy Russell, though a total of 16 were subsequently hit with suspensions by the CCCC, ranging from four weeks to two months, having serious implications for both teams' championship preparations.
In addition, both county boards were fined €20,000 and Leinster Council could also yet go down that route and hit yesterday's participant counties in the pocket.
Laois open their league campaign against Tipperary on February 6th and are then away to Donegal on the 14th. Any players given four-week bans would miss both of those matches, while any players suspended from Kildare are likely to sit out their early Division 2 clashes with Down and Tipperary.