TIPPERARY goalkeeper Evan Comerford is bracing himself for a lengthy inter-county ban following an incident with referee Paddy Russell towards the end of a club game on Tuesday evening.
Comerford, an All-Star nominee last year, was sent off playing for Kilsheelan-Kilcash in their defeat to JK Brackens in the county senior football championship.
It’s understood that Russell, who refereed the 1990 and 1995 All-Ireland senior football finals, was preparing to submit his official match report yesterday (THURS).
And according to sources close to the vastly-experienced Emly whistler, he was set to report Comerford for minor physical interference, an offence that carries a 12-week ban.
The nature of the infraction means that it applies to all codes and at all levels.
Should Comerford’s worst fears come to pass, he would be suspended until mid-August, and potentially facing a summer without inter-county football.
Tipperary manager Liam Kearns would be left with a major void to fill between the sticks, as Comerford’s pinpoint kick-outs are a key weapon in Tipperary’s arsenal.
Comerford (22) is also an accomplished shot-stopper who’s previously played for the Republic of Ireland’s amateur international soccer team.
According to local reports, Comerford was dismissed following a dispute with Russell over the awarding of a free, which turned out to be the winning score for Brackens.
There have been suggestions that Comerford then raised his hands to Russell – and the referee is prepared to report him for it.
Losing Comerford would blow a massive hole in Tipperary’s championship hopes, as they prepare for a Munster SFC semi-final with Cork or Waterford on June 10.
Kearns already has a number of injury concerns to contend with and he suffered a fresh blow on Wednesday evening when former International Rules player Ciaran McDonald was injured on club duty with Aherlow Gaels against Fethard.
Had things worked out differently Willie Hyland could have been renewing acquaintances with his old master Davy Fitzgerald in O'Moore Park on Sunday, but a hip injury forced him to call time on his inter-county career last year at just 28.