'There's a Roy Keane bandwagon that surrounds him now' - Joe Brolly on Diarmuid Connolly
Following initial reports that Dublin were prepared to accept the 12-week ban meted out to Diarmuid Connolly, the word came through yesterday that an appeal is in fact being lodged.
Joe Brolly, who has form in overturning lengthy bans, all for the very reasonable price of a pint of Guinness, says observers need to understand the centrality of the referee's report to the entire process.
And he is confused how an offence which wasn't punished in real-time found its way into the referee's report.
"Once it's in referee's report, even if it might be there in dubious circumstances, you cannot challenge it unless you've got some very compelling evidence to the contrary."
"You can't cross examine the officials so they cannot be asked to appear at the hearings. And they can only be asked to clarify anything that's in the referee's report but only at the sole discretion of the hearings committee..."
"This is the most suspicious feature. You've got this referee's report with an additional notes column where it says, 'In the debrief after the game' - which is unusual in itself - 'the stand-by referee reported that No. 11 from Dublin pushed him during the game.'
"Now when the stand-by referee remember that? When did that realisation dawn? Something happened to put that into the referee's report when it wasn't there."
Brolly notes that players often touch officials during games. Not every touch, so far as anyone can see, represents 'minor physical interference' in the eyes of the law. So, the tricky matter is here is adjudging what constitutes 'minor physical interference.'
Ultimately, Brolly believes that one of the main reasons that the Connolly incident has blown up is simply due to the identity of the player involved.
"If that was Colm Cooper, people would be saying, 'Is Colm going to get no protection? You've three Carlow lads clawing him around the place. He's clearly holding his hands up to show I'm not doing anything here. And what does he do then? He touches the official with two fingertips and the official doesn't even react. Are you seriously going to ban him for that?'
"But because it's Diarmuid and there's a kind of a Roy Keane bandwagon that surrounds him now... I mean don't get me wrong, Diarmuid has shown indiscipline in the past. I don't know much about the fella. But it does seem to me that there are clear extenuating circumstances. And if you look at the thing at full speed, there's actually nothing to it. And the official didn't react and he's a stand-by referee of great experience and a fully fledged referee."
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