The disciplinary action against Clare hurlers Rory Hayes and Peter Duggan and Galway’s Cianan Fahy fell down because the GAA’s Central Hearings Committee (CHC) determined on Wednesday night that the process had commenced by email.
roposed one-match bans for Hayes and Duggan and a two-match ban for Fahy were dropped on foot of a Galway challenge to the Fahy ban, pointing out the email element of the action.
It has been widely suggested that a disciplinary meeting couldn’t be conducted online for a matter of this substance but rule 4.7, covering video and telephone conferencing allows for such meetings to take place, when the committee-in-charge, in this case the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC), deems it appropriate.
Hayes and Duggan are clear to play against Wexford in tomorrow’s second quarter-final in Thurles, while Fahy can face Cork in the first game.
They were retrospectively facing suspensions after the referees in the Munster and Leinster finals, John Keenan and James Owens, missed incidents they’d been involved in.
Fahy was charged with stamping on Kilkenny’s Richie Reid, Hayes and Duggan faced charges linked to striking with the hurl.
CCCC met online early last week to discuss the incidents but apparently one member of the group which sat in on those discussions could not view the clips properly. The clips were later emailed out and a decision was taken in a follow-up thread to proceed.
The decision by the CHC to dismiss the actions on that basis has caused great concern about how to proceed with future disciplinary cases as it again involves the initiation of disciplinary action and a review in the next week is expected.
There’s also a view that the matter could have been referred back to CCCC.
Rule 7.3d 2 states that “disciplinary action commences where the Competitions Control Committee decides that Disciplinary Action is appropriate arising from competitions or games” but there is no specific guidance about how they arrive at that decision.
In April, Armagh footballer Rian O’Neill avoided a one-match ban when CHC determined that an error, as pointed out by Armagh, had been made when a CCCC panel viewed the clip prior to the referee being asked if he had adjudicated on it. This again did not appear to be a clear contravention of rule but was enough for hearings to close the case on a procedural matter.
The latest collapse has drawn reaction across the board.
Speaking at a media event ahead of the weekend Tailteann Cup semi-finals, the Sligo manager and former Armagh footballer Tony McEntee said the GAA’s disciplinary system was being “abused by managers and county boards, as opposed to one that is not necessarily an issue over whether it’s fit for purpose.”
McEntee said players and management need to take more responsibility for actions.
“I have been on the end of a number of those things. I think maybe we need to look at whether an infraction occurred and if you were wrong then I think we need to take responsibility for that,” he said.
“We had two sendings-off this year, one we appealed and the other we didn’t appeal on the grounds we felt the player got sent off appropriately. So therefore we didn’t feel the need to appeal. In the other case we felt he wasn’t sent off appropriately, so we appealed it (didn’t succeed).
“I think if we take a rational approach to it, the system is probably fine,” said McEntee. “But if we want to fight and argue all the time then we’ll find holes somewhere in it. It ends up in a legal case. And I know In a lot of the high-profile cases – maybe Armagh-Tyrone and Armagh-Donegal – it ends up in a legal case where you have a legal discussion which anybody can win then.”
The former Galway hurler Joe Canning, speaking at the launch of Bord Gáis Energy’s ‘State of Play’ campaign to promote allyship and inclusion in team sports, described the disciplinary system as a “joke.”
“It’s the interpretation of different rules by different people and that’s human nature as well so it’s like anything, it’s the interpretation of how a meeting was held last week to suspend the lads. It’s all technicalities really.”
In an overall context, Canning said he would “leave the rules as they are. You can have great games with loads of frees as well but I think John Keenan, in fairness to him and I think the players respected him a lot as well, he got most of the major calls right on the day. I thought he had a great game.”