Dublin GAA have suspended Dessie Farrell as their senior football manager for 12 weeks, following an internal investigation into the breach of Covid-19 lockdown rules and GAA training ban had occurred yesterday morning at the grounds of Innisfails GAA club in Clongriffin.
A statement, published on the county board’s website and attributed to the Dublin management committee, insists that they “acknowledge that, following an investigation this afternoon, there was a breach of Covid-19 guidelines yesterday morning.
“The County Management Committee have suspended Dublin Senior Football manager Dessie Farrell for 12 weeks with immediate effect.
“The Dublin senior football management and players recognise that this was a serious error of judgement and apologise unreservedly for their actions.”
The 12-week suspension comes into effect immediately and runs until June 24th.
Though there are no dates confirmed yet for this year's inter-county programme of fixtures, Farrell is likely now to miss out on all of Dublin's League campaign and he would return in time for Dublin Leinster quarter-final going by current fixture projections.
There is no indication yet whether Croke Park will accept Dublin’s censure or proceed with their own case, although a swift resolution will naturally appeal.
Back in January, the Mayo county board’s executive took the decision to suspend three members of their own senior football management team for three months apiece for unauthorised access to last year’s All-Ireland final in Croke Park.
Croke Park’s operations team had no knowledge of the unauthorised presence of the three, who were passengers in the team’s kit van, and that the first anyone in the GAA learned about the matter was via the Mayo county board.
In that instance, Croke Park were satisfied that Mayo had handed down and enforced suitable bans.
Pictures taken by the Irish Independent clearly show members of the Dublin panel engaged in a group session, currently prohibited under government and Croke Park rules.
The session began barely 12 hours after Croke Park issued a circular to all clubs and counties, warning that any breaches of the current ban on collective training could put the GAA’s overall plans for a return “in serious jeopardy”.
This followed the Government’s announcement earlier on Tuesday that senior inter-county panels will now be allowed to resume training from April 19, with a view to commencing the Allianz football and hurling leagues in May.
Already this year, two county football managers; Cork’s Ronan McCarthy and Paddy Tally of Down, were suspended by Croke Park under the catch-all sanction “misconduct considered to have discredited the Association” after their teams were found to have breached the GAA’s ban on collective gatherings.
McCarthy was suspended for 12 weeks after some members of the Cork football panel took part in what was explained to be a team-building session on Youghal beach.
McCarthy’s punishment, from the date of his CHC hearing on February 18, won’t lapse until May 13 – just in time for the likely mid-May start of a truncated NFL campaign.
Down boss Tally was suspended for eight weeks arising from a gathering of “around 18 players”, reportedly to receive their individual training programmes, on the grounds of Abbey CBS in Newry back in January.
Tally also faced a 12-week suspension following investigation by the GAA’s Management Committee, although this was later reduced to eight weeks by the GAA’s Central Hearings Committee.