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Armagh's wait for an official disciplinary verdict on the Croke Park brawl goes on

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Armagh joint skipper Aidan Nugent received a red card on Sunday which many thought he did not warrant

Armagh joint skipper Aidan Nugent received a red card on Sunday which many thought he did not warrant

©INPHO/James Crombie

Armagh joint skipper Aidan Nugent received a red card on Sunday which many thought he did not warrant

The disciplinary wheels tend to turn rather slowly within the GAA. But then again, when a forensic analysis of a referee’s report is undertaken, this of necessity involves a generous ration of time.

So it is that with five days gone since Sunday’s All-Ireland Football Championship quarter-final between Armagh and Galway, official confirmation is still awaited on the findings of the Central Competitions Control Committee into the fracas which occurred at the end of normal time.

While it is understood that player bans will be issued, formal notification of the disciplinary body’s overall verdict on what proved to be a shameful incident continues to serve as a distraction ahead of the semi-finals between Derry and Galway and Dublin and Kerry next weekend.

Galway have particular reason for feeling anxious as they could find themselves immersed in an appeals process that might prove necessary in an attempt to overturn any ban or bans.

And Armagh, for their part, harbour serious concerns about what punishment might be meted out to squad member Tiernan Kelly — he did not play in the game as he is recovering from illness — who appeared to make contact with the eyes of Galway full-forward Damien Comer.

While Galway manager Padraic Joyce is endeavouring to keep his players’ attention firmly fixed on their clash with Derry, a team they beat in the League but who have undergone a spectacular improvement since then, he is conscious that the aftermath of last Sunday’s violent scenes still carries a bitter taste.

There was more than a touch of irony in the fact that just two days after the game, the launch of a report of recommendations into tackling abuse in sport of referees, match officials and players took place in Dublin.

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The report by the Joint Committee of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Media and Sport recommends that sports governing bodies have funding withheld for failing to tackle abuse in their sports, as well as the appointment of a disciplinary ombudsman.

And to add to the irony, not one but two former Tyrone players have chipped in with support in what proved to be a dark hour for Armagh.

Peter Canavan and Owen Mulligan are no strangers to being in the opposite corner to Armagh but on this occasion they have been attempting to take the heat out of what is proving a very trying situation.

Canavan believes that Armagh’s Aidan Nugent and Galway’s Sean Kelly did not deserve red cards.

“The camera clearly showed Aidan Nugent, whilst he was there in it, he didn’t do anything to deserve a red card. It looked as if Sean Kelly was the same,” maintained Canavan.

“It’s a difficult one, they’re unsavoury scenes, but I’d be surprised if there are more than three or four that are singled out of that and receive heavy suspensions.”

And Mulligan is equally emphatic in his observations on what was a bittersweet occasion for Kieran McGeeney’s men.

“I have heard that Tiernan Kelly has come out and apologised to Damien Comer and to Galway,” said Mulligan.

“Let’s remember that thankfully nobody was seriously hurt, this lad knows he’s done wrong, he probably feels awful so we should think twice before hanging him out to dry publicly.

“Let’s call a spade a spade, this isn’t the first eye gouge that we’ve seen in the GAA but have you ever seen such a fuss being made?

“Just have a look and read a lot of the tweets about it and they’re all ‘typical northies’ and ‘What do you expect from an Ulster team?’ and so on.

“Also, when you look at the melee, the people who were mainly involved there weren’t actually the players. They were actually the subs.”


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