'It's up to the GAA to close loopholes' - Tomás Ó Sé slates 'farcical' disciplinary system after Austin Gleeson call
Kerry football legend Tomás Ó Sé has called on the GAA to finally deal with the flaws in their disciplinary system after Austin Gleeson was cleared to play in the All-Ireland hurling final despite clearly breaching the rule regarding face-guards and helmets.
Referee James Owens told the the Central Competitions Control Comittee (CCCC) that he didn't think Gleeson's clash with Luke Meade warranted a card and that he dealt with the incident, meaning that the CCCC could not the review the incident.
Under the rules, a helmet-pulling incident is a red-card offence which also carries a one-match ban.
Gleeson's Waterford teammate Tadhg de Búrca was banned by the CCCC for a similar clash with Wexford's Harry Kehoe in their quarter-final and missed the win over Cork.
Galway corner-back Adrian Tuohy was cleared by the CCCC after he pulled the helmet from Tipp's Patrick 'Bonnar' Maher because he was facing away from his opponent and the committee didn't think they could make a charge stick.
In that incident, referee Barry Kelly felt he may have made an error and the CCC was free to adjudicate on the incident. It is understood that they are not pleased they couldn't make a judgement on the Gleeson affair.
Speaking on the Independent.ie's 'Punter's Platform' podcast, Ó Sé believes the three helmet-pulling incidents have highlighted major problems with how the GAA deals with disciplinary issues.
"The Tadhg de Búrca incident started it whole thing off I think and looking at it, not as a hurling man, I didn't think there was a lot in it. He wasn't even looking back, I think he shoved the hand back," he said.
"Consistency is the issue, if you are not allowed touch a helmet... I know Austin Gleeson deserves to play in an All-Ireland final, but when you bring it down to the bare facts that's not the point really.
"I think our judicial system in the GAA is a farce.
"You go back down the years, the amount of people who have got off, the amount of people who have been done in the wrong and it's all based on cameras at games and if there is no camera at the game, the CCCC don't even come into it.
"I nearly missed one (an All-Ireland final), I got a suspension after a semi-final against Cork and was back for the All-Ireland on the night before the game.
"At that time, it was time rather than matches. If it had been matches I would have been gone. It was four weeks and I was back for the game.
"It's ridiculous in terms of the ways we go about suspending players, the system we have is all over the place.
"If the ref had given Austin Gleeson a yellow card it would have been a case of it was dealt with, because the referee misses it, the CCCC can come after a player.
"To be fair to Owens, I wish there were more referees like him around to have the courage to follow through and not worry about the CCCC.
"Everybody knows that Austin Gleeson is not a dirty hurler.
"The action replay and reverse camera angle showed it. It was a rush of blood to the head, I've done it many times myself? Should he miss the game? Technically, he should but it's done and dusted.
"I was the same... you lose all control. It's a part of his game but if you took it away, he wouldn't be the same player.
"If the ref deals with it, he deals with it. If the CCCC come in... it's out of Austin Gleeson's hands."
Ó Sé feels that the current make-up of the disciplinary system has encouraged players and officials to take it on.
"Let's say you're Austin Gleeson and you're facing a suspension, someone in the county board is obviously going to try and find a way out of it," he added.
"If there are loopholes, which there are in out system, then why wouldn't you go down that road?
"The last two times I was suspended I was asked 'do you want to try and get off?' and I said 'no', it was me who made the decision.
"If you have a strong county board or if you have someone like Joe Brolly saying 'Grand, what the lad did was wrong. It was a red card but the way they've worded it or the way the ref has dealt with it, the way the GAA have dealt with it, you can get off this'. It's up to the GAA to close those loopholes and it's never been done. It's ridiculous."
It is understood that the GAA will look to increase the powers of the CCCC to investigate incidents, even if referees are adamant that they have been dealt with on the pitch.