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McGrath risks a 12-week ban

THREE high profile hurlers are at risk of 12-week bans as a result of playing in the Ryan Cup for Mary Immaculate College Limerick (MICL) whilst ineligible, including Tipperary's All Star midfielder Shane McGrath.

Fellow Premier County player Darragh Egan and Waterford midfielder Jamie Nagle are the other players who could be suspended.

McGrath, Nagle and Egan lined out in MICL's Ryan Cup group match against Trinity College on February 10, despite questions over their legality. As a result of a challenge from the GAA's Higher Education Board to the eligibility of the trio and one other player, MICL subsequently forfeited their semi-final clash with Tralee IT, due to be played yesterday, after their appeal failed at the Central Appeals Committee.

MICL had requested a postponement which was not granted and are now considering bringing their case to the DRA.

Meanwhile, McGrath, Egan and Nagle will sweat it out with the possibility of missing not just their county's remaining NHL Division 1 games, but any potential league final also.

The confusion over eligibility stems from MICL's post graduate course's 18-month term, a degree which carries 90 academic credits. To be eligible to compete in third level GAA competition in any given year, a student must have acquired 60 credits in that particular season.

However, as the quartet in question played in last season's Ryan Cup, they have used 60 of their academic credits, leaving them with an insufficient number in order to partake in this year's competition.

There had also been an issue over the eligibility of Bryan Cullen, who today lined out for DCU in their Sigerson Cup semi-final clash with NUI Maynooth. Having returned to the college after a two-year absence, the Skerries Harps defender has played in each of DCU's Sigerson and O'Byrne Cup matches so far this year.

However, there was initially thought to be a problem with his eligibility. Leinster Council, who have sponsored Cullen to return to third level studies, initially informed the Higher Education registrations office that the player was completing an MA but as Cullen had already attained a Masters in his previous stint in the college, he would be unable to play Sigerson football under the 'Academic Progression' rule.


This regulation prohibits a player from lining out with a college after changing course if the current course is not of a higher academic level. However, the DCU clarified to the HE's registrar's office that Cullen was in fact, studying for a PhD and had therefore completed the necessary progression.

Likewise, Seánie Johnston -- another DCU student -- may have had a case to answer, though his elbow injury rules him out of DCU's Sigerson Cup bid.

The Cavan forward is studying for a second degree, both of which qualify for level eight of the academic standard and no submission had been made to the registrars office by October 31 to apply for dispensation.

Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash was suspended for the same reasons, incurring a 12-week ban after lining out for UCC in the Fitzgibbon Cup, though this was later reduced to four weeks on appeal and he will not now miss any of the Rebels National League games.