Sport Gaelic Football

Monday 19 February 2018

Kerry happy to face Connolly -- O'Shea

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

THERE has been broad approval for the decision to liberate Diarmuid Connolly from a proposed four-week ban that would have ruled him out of the All-Ireland final, with Kerry legend Jack O'Shea insisting that the decision would be welcomed even in the Kingdom.

Connolly, sent off against Donegal in the semi-final, was cleared on Monday night by the Central Hearings Committee (CHC), who decided that while he committed an offence against defender Marty Boyle, it was not one serious enough to warrant a red card.

The CHC's decision was "a good one" for football, according to former Dublin manager Tommy Lyons.

He argued yesterday that to condemn Connolly to missing an All-Ireland final would have sent out the wrong message to players.

Meanwhile, O'Shea insisted there would be "no grievance" in Kerry that Connolly will not have to serve the suspension.

"I'm glad he got off, really, because I didn't think it was a sending-off offence," said the four-time Footballer of the Year at the launch of the Blue September Kilmacud Crokes Football Sevens.

"He didn't deserve a straight red for the incident and I don't think anyone in Kerry will have any complaints. We want to beat Dublin at their best."

Ironically, Kerry have enjoyed no such latitude from the CHC, with Marc O Se failing to have a four-week ban overturned earlier this year and Paul Galvin losing out for two months after being sent off in an Allianz League match against Cork in February 2010.

"There have been a few incidents this year where Kerry players were sent off and they didn't even go to protest against it," recalled O'Shea.

"But I just think it's the nature of the thing -- being sent off in an All-Ireland semi-final means you miss the final. That's probably one of the reasons why (he got off)."

Lyons credited the CHC for their fairness but suggested that Meath's Brian Farrell may feel more aggrieved after his failure to avoid a suspension when the weight of evidence supported him.

"This committee have had a fantastic year. The only decision I'd have disagreed with was the one they made about Brian Farrell," he said.

"I think they got every other big call right. That's what we need in the association -- that kind of leadership on the discipline side of things because pushing a player in Gaelic football isn't a red card.

"It's not soccer; it's a physical game played by men who go out and compete.

"There are a lot of us in the football side of the GAA who would like to see the physicality that is allowed in hurling being allowed in football. There is nothing wrong with physicality if it is done fairly and honestly. What we all hate is cynical pulling and dragging for the sake of pulling and dragging."

Meanwhile, O'Shea is adamant that Paul Galvin should start the final for Kerry rather than being kept on the bench to be introduced as an impact substitute.

"I would start Paul Galvin. He showed when he came in against Mayo that he still has the ability," said O'Shea.

"The player who might lose out again is Donnacha Walsh, who was dropped for the 2009 final to make way for Tommy Walsh. He played in every game up to the final that year but missed out on the big day and it could happen to him again.

"Using Galvin as an impact player has worked so far this year. But if you're such a talented player and a good player, it could be negative if you didn't pick him.

"I'd feel you would get the best out of Paul Galvin by starting him. He's been through it before, which is vital on the big occasion, and I think they'll go for that."

Irish Independent

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