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Sense of injustice over Brady continues to grow

THEY'VE watched the plight of the 'Ulster three' with great interest in Mullahoran over the last few weeks.

Between CDCs, CACs and DRAs the whole GAA disciplinary process can be a little bit confusing to an uneducated eye.

But in this west Cavan football stronghold, home to one of the country's finest handballers, the bottom line is not hard to understand. And the sense of injustice to their finest son is growing by the day.

Ryan McMenamin, Paul McGrane and Ciarán McKeever are free to play football in the month of August. Good luck to them they say in Mullahoran.

But that doesn't make them feel any better about the plight of Paul Brady, the Cavan footballer sent off and stretchered off at the same time at the end of the drawn Ulster semi-final against Tyrone on June 20. In fact it makes them feel a lot worse.

In Mullahoran the technical issues at the core of the McMenamin, McGrane and McKeever cases don't really interest them. A committee's inability to change the charge sheet against a player for an incident already dealt with by a referee is not of concern to them.

What does bother them is the broader issue however. McMenamin served a one-match ban for sticking his knees in an opponent's chest/neck area. The referee deemed it a yellow card offence, the CDC said he should serve four weeks, the DRA said no, he shouldn't serve any suspension at all.

Brady, one of the finest ambassadors for the GAA through his handball exploits, is feeling a little perturbed about his situation.

He has watched the 'Ulster three' go free, he has watched four other players have red cards rescinded this year and a Kerry player was summoned to a disciplinary meeting for a clear transgression but received nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

And all the time Brady has continued to serve a 12-week suspension, the only one dished out in the mainstream championship this season, with good dignity and grace.

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In that time he has missed four Cavan matches (the replay against Tyrone and Qualifiers against Donegal, Meath and Mayo) and two club matches with Mullahoran, beaten in last year's Cavan final.

By this Sunday he'll have missed a third championship match and by the time his suspension expires in September that figure will have risen to four and possibly five championship games.

Brady's offence was to have, in referee Gerry Kinneavy's eyes, "stamped" on an opponent, an offence that carries a 12-week penalty in the GAA rulebook.

True, it didn't look good on video.

There was clear contact between Brady's boot and Conor Gormley's body.

Brady can't deny there was contact and didn't. What he did deny was intent and still does so.

A renowned cramp sufferer Brady had only arrived home from an exhaustive and ultimately successful handball crusade to Texas where he had become the first Irish man to win a US Open handball title.

Tired near the end of 70 minutes of championship football in searing heat, Brady felt his leg lock, and in his words unavoidably stepped on Gormley. Gormley kindly provided a letter to that effect as did the Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.

But it was all to no avail. Three months and goodbye Paul! The only comfort for him was a release to play handball, courtesy of a motion passed at Congress in April separating codes in matters of discipline.

Two months into a suspension that has already cost him six games and anger is mounting in Brady's club. Was what he did any worse than what McMenamin got off for? Yet the imbalance of the sentence compared to others is shocking, another indictment of the GAA's out-dated time suspension system.

For Mullahoran chairman Noel O'Reilly that raises an obvious question. "If Paul Brady was from one of the more successful counties would he have been treated differently? This is a question I have to answer to our members."

In the current climate, the Cavan County Board owe it to Brady to have this case re-opened and at least appealed. And the appeal board should listen intently to what he has to say, consider the great inconsistencies of recent cases, be brave to wield the rulebook and ask themselves: "Does Paul Brady's crime fit the punishment he continues to serve?"

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