Last throw of the dice for Armagh trio Donaghy, Toner and Mallon
Armagh's bid to have a one-match ban imposed on three key players overturned could go right down to the wire.
Brendan Donaghy, Kieran Toner and Andy Mallon were served with the sanctions following the pre-match fracas that marred their county's recent Ulster Championship quarter-final against Cavan.
Now, with less than 24 hours to go before his team confronts reigning provincial champions Monaghan in the semi-final, manager Paul Grimley could tonight be forced to endure a tense wait if the Orchard County's bid to have the bans rescinded is taken to the all-powerful Disputes Resolution Authority.
Grimley had discussions with county board officials last night when, having failed to make headway in their plea to the Central Hearings Committee and subsequently the Central Appeals Committee, a last throw of the disciplinary dice was contemplated.
The Disputes Resolution Authority, an independent body, is the final arbiter in contentious or controversial issues.
A terse statement from Croke Park yesterday afternoon outlined in stark terms Armagh's lack of headway in the corridors of power to date.
"The appeals of Andy Mallon, Brendan Donaghy and Kieran Toner were considered by the CAH. The players chose to proceed by way of written submissions so neither they nor the CHC or CCCC attended. The CAC rejected the appeals," the statement read.
Since the semi-final win over Cavan, manger Grimley, backed by his county board, has placed a strong emphasis on striving to have the bans overturned.
But while the Disputes Resolution Authority route may yet be invoked, the Armagh boss has nonetheless not lost sight of his primary goal – trying to deliver another championship win.
"We are still very keen to pursue our quest to have the bans on the three boys overturned but we are also strongly focused.
"With Donegal now in the Ulster final, the stage is set for the second semi-final and while we could be under-strength, we will have to go with the hand which we will be dealt," states Grimley.
In addition to the probable absence of Mallon, Donaghy and Toner, the loss of Caolan Rafferty with a serious hand injury strips Armagh of explosive forward power.