Friday 23 February 2018

Lack of fair procedure key to overturned ban

Diarmuid Connolly after being sent off for striking Lee Keegan in last Sunday’s drawn semi-final
Diarmuid Connolly after being sent off for striking Lee Keegan in last Sunday’s drawn semi-final

Damian Lawlor

The GAA's disciplinary procedures were once again thrown into chaos in the early hours of yesterday morning after Diarmuid Connolly was dramatically cleared to play in last night's replay.

Connolly was sent off for striking Lee Keegan in last Sunday's drawn semi-final but at 2.30am the Dublin forward learned that his appeal against a one-match ban to the Disputes Resolution Authority had been successful. His appeal to the DRA was his last port of call.

But the decision surely now brings the entire disciplinary procedure into question again. Only last year - at the same stage in the season - Keegan was sent off in Mayo's drawn semi-final against Kerry. He also had his ban overturned and played in the replay.

Sources say that these episodes could prompt the GAA to look at completely overhauling their disciplinary system.

Connolly's case has already caused ripples around the Gaelic football community, with some referees now privately wondering what a red card stands for anymore.

Connolly had failed in appeals to the Central Hearings Committee and the Central Appeals Committee last week.

A statement yesterday referring to the Connolly case read: "At a hearing on September 4 at the Regency Hotel Airport in Dublin, a DRA panel chaired by former Supreme Court judge Hugh O'Flaherty (with solicitors David Nohilly and Brian Rennick) upheld a claim by Diarmuid Connolly against a one-match ban arising out of an infraction during the drawn Mayo v Dublin All-Ireland semi-final of Sunday, August 30.

"The panel's decision related to lack of fair procedure afforded to Mr Connolly at an early stage in the GAA's internal disciplinary process which unfairly hindered the preparations for, and presentation of, his defence. Mr Connolly was thus free to play in the replay of the above match on September 5.

"A full, written award reflective of the hearing as a whole, will be issued by the above DRA panel within two weeks and will be published on"

In 2011, Connolly was also dismissed at the semi-final stage in Dublin's win over Donegal, but was subsequently cleared to play in the All-Ireland final which Dublin won.

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