Wednesday 21 August 2019

Kerry's Stephen O'Brien cleared to play in All-Ireland SFC final after suspension lifted

Stephen O'Brien of Kerry celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during last Sunday's All-Ireland SFC semi-final win over Tyrone at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Stephen O'Brien of Kerry celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during last Sunday's All-Ireland SFC semi-final win over Tyrone at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Frank Roche

Kerry attacker Stephen O’Brien has been cleared to play in the All-Ireland SFC final against Dublin.

O’Brien had been facing an automatic one-match ban following the accumulation of three black cards this season, but launched a successful challenge before the Central Hearings Committee. 

County board chairman Tim Murphy confirmed that video evidence produced by Kerry had “overruled” the referee’s report in relation to his 50th minute black card against Meath on August 3. 

That was the second of O’Brien’s three infractions, coming after his black-and-yellow card dismissal against Galway in February and before his third black card during last Sunday’s semi-final against Tyrone. 

The in-form forward’s All-Ireland fate had been left hanging precariously after he was banished for dragging down substitute Connor McAliskey, deep in stoppage-time. 

However, O’Brien made it clear in his ‘Man of the Match’ interview straight afterwards that he would seek to challenge what he deemed a harsh black card during the Super 8s clash in Navan. 

The decision by the CHC means that the 2014 All-Ireland winner is now free to concentrate on the pursuit of a second Celtic Cross on September 1. 

His manager, Peter Keane, told RTÉ last night: "The black card he received against Meath has been rescinded. Thankfully he's available to play in the All-Ireland final.  

"You don't want to see any fellow miss out on the playing of the big day - and Stephen has been very good for us this year and over the last few years he's been a key player for Kerry.” 

Speaking earlier at Kerry’s All-Ireland media night at their centre of excellence in Currans, Keane expressed confidence that James O'Donoghue's recent hamstring injury won't rule him out of contention for the final. 

"He trained last night and was training last week. He is very close," Keane disclosed. "The other side of it is that you have 30-odd fellas who are available for selection. His name keeps cropping up by ye, but every other fella inside in that squad is looking for a spot as well. They are all reasonably in good shape and are raring to go."

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