Carlow trio hit with hefty bans
Carlow have been hit with suspensions totalling 44 weeks that will rule one of their most experienced players out of the Leinster Championship at least and keep their manager and coach off the sidelines for much of the summer.
Midfielder Brendan Murphy has been suspended for 12 weeks, while manager Turlough O'Brien and coach Steven Poacher have both been suspended for 20 and 12 weeks respectively for alleged threatening conduct towards a referee.
The suspensions, handed down by the GAA's Central Hearings Committee, arose following Carlow's defeat to Laois in their final Division 3 match against Down which they lost by one point in Netwatch Cullen Park to condemn them to relegation.
A Central Competition Controls Committee (CCCC) investigation decided to lay charges against the trio for minor physical interference and threatening conduct aimed at referee James Bermingham in the aftermath of the game. However, they contested the charges and the minor physical interference charges were not proven in all three cases.
The penalties will apply from Monday night's hearing which means that, unless they win on appeal, Murphy and Poacher will be out until June 30, eight days after the Leinster SFC final. By then three rounds of qualifiers will have been played.
O'Brien's return goes much further into the summer, in all probability ruling him out for Carlow's campaign. CCCC had originally proposed a 16-week ban for the manager but this was increased by four weeks by the hearings committee.
O'Brien's and Poacher's confrontation with a match official is not the first this season. Kieran McGeeney accepted a four-week penalty arising out of an incident involving a linesman during Armagh's draw with Clare in Newry, while Wexford boss Davy Fitzgerald was banned for a month after challenging referee Cathal McAllister during the NHL quarter-final defeat to Galway.
Louth manager Wayne Kierans accepted a 12-week ban for an altercation with a linesman, while Wicklow selector Leighton Glynn got four weeks for abusive language towards a referee.