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O'Connell appeal turned down

Ireland and Munster lock Paul O'Connell has had his appeal dismissed against a four-week ban.

O'Connell, last year's British and Irish Lions captain in South Africa, was sent off for striking' Wales number eight Jonathan Thomas in a Heineken Cup match between Munster and the Ospreys 11 days ago.

He subsequently received a four-week suspension, with disciplinary hearing chairman Judge Jeff Blackett determining O'Connell's act had been deliberate, but with no intention to injure.

O'Connell appealed against both the four-week sanction and the finding of foul play, with a hearing held by conference call and chaired by Professor Lorne Crerar (Scotland).

A three-man panel heard submissions from O'Connell, his solicitor and from European Rugby Cup disciplinary officer Roger O'Connor.

The committee found that O'Connell, who was red-carded in his comeback match following a long-term groin injury, had not demonstrated the original decision had been in error or that it should be overturned or varied, and therefore dismissed the appeal.

O'Connell can play again from January 10.

He will miss Munster's next three Magners League games, but will be available for the twice-European champions' final two Heineken Cup pool games away to Toulon and at home against London Irish.

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