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Relief for Dubs as Connolly red card is overturned in time for final showdown

DUBLIN'S Diarmuid Connolly is back in the game.

The star forward has been given the all-clear to line out against Kerry on a technicality.

GAA bosses have been left red-faced after it was claimed that the referee who gave Connolly his marching orders in the All Ireland semi-final never actually took down his name.

As a result, the St Vincent's man will be able start in the final -- provided that manager Pat Gilroy gives him the green light.

Much to the dismay of Dublin supporters, Connolly was banned for four weeks after the sending off, but appealed to the Central Hearings Committee (CHC) at Croke Park last night.

Connolly was sent off when he reacted to Donegal sub Marty Boyle, who had collided with him after the Dublin man won a free.

Connolly pushed Boyle and the Donegal man fell to the ground.

On consultation with his linesman Rory Hickey, referee Maurice Deegan opted to send the player off.

The CHC took this into account and felt that a lesser punishment would have sufficed.

In a massive boost for the capital, the CHC decided that the red card received against Donegal was not merited.

However, it has also emerged that the referee did not write down Connolly's name in his notebook when sending him off, as is required by the GAA's rules.

Connolly was man of the match in the Blues' quarter final victory over Tyrone, scoring seven points.

Prior to last night's hearing, the general consensus was that the CHC would not overturn the card but the weight of evidence supported a more lenient approach. Observers said today that it was a "common sense" approach.

Connolly was accompanied to Croke Park by Dublin chief executive John Costello and the process took close to three hours to complete.