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Shields and McMahon at risk of bans

CORK captain Michael Shields and Dublin corner-back Philip McMahon could miss their provincial championship openers if the GAA decides to discipline them for their rumble in the tunnel last Sunday.

Live TV images clearly captured the two players striking each other as the teams returned to their dressing-rooms at half-time and the GAA could come down hard on them to send out a warning before the provincial championships start.

The minimum suspension for a Category 2 offence like striking is four weeks and if that is the result they will not miss out.

However if the GAA charge them with a Category 3 infraction they would get minimum bans of eight weeks each, which would rule them out of their championship openers against Clare (May 22) and Laois/ Longford (June 5).

Category 3 is designed to cover serious infractions such as head-butting, stamping, kicking and striking with a hurl, but it also has a clause which includes "inflicting injury recklessly to an opponent".

There is also another scenario which may yet have more serious repercussions for their clubs, as these potential bans are all playing infractions and covered by Rule 17.2 (b) -- but this dust-up did not occur on the field of play.

The rule book also contains a section covering "disruptive conduct by players, team officials and supporters in the vicinity of the field of play" -- Rule 17.2 (d).

Shields and McMahon could, technically, be charged with breaking this rule, the penalty for which is "at the discretion of the committee in charge".

And unlike suspensions handed out for playing offences, which are code and competition specific (ie senior inter-county football), suspensions handed out under Rule 17.2 (d) apply across all codes and levels, so any ban applies to players at both club and representative level.

If they got a four-week ban under this rule they still wouldn't miss their county's senior championship openers but they would have to sit out any club games that fall in that period.

Irish Independent