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Bandleader insists his boys aren't to blame

By Declan Bogue

Bernard O'Connor, the bandleader of St Michael's Scout Band, has refuted reports that the Enniskillen band's flag-bearers were in any way at fault for Sunday's pre-match brawl between Armagh and Cavan.

It had been suggested that the home team should have the outside line in a parade – therefore being closest to the spectators – and that Armagh captain Ciaran McKeever was within his rights to occupy the outside line.

However, speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, O'Connor claims there is no such arrangement, saying: "We have never, ever had an issue like this before.

"It's absolutely not of our making at all. We just did what we normally do and teams fall in behind us. There is no protocol around any of that sort of stuff."

He added: "If you take a look at our matches, teams just line up behind their flags and march. Even if Monaghan are playing an Ulster final in Clones as they were last year, it is not a home venue for them per se, it's just where the Ulster Council fixed the venue."

The band have been providing musical entertainment for Ulster Championship games for almost 30 years and O'Connor felt both sides have to shoulder responsibility for the fracas.

"What happened shouldn't have happened," the retired headmaster said. "Two teams were wrong. Armagh were wrong in the first place and Cavan were atrociously wrong in doing what they did.

"Teams have been lining up for the last 30-odd years and there has never been an issue. It was the teams' problem, not ours."

He also wanted it noted that no children were harmed.

"They didn't show any signs of distress. It didn't affect us. There was no danger to our safety."

The scenes will now be examined by the Competitions Control Committee.

Cavan's full-forward Martin Dunne has a suspected broken hand, with his manager Terry Hyland claiming it arose from the fracas. He was due to get a CT scan late yesterday evening.

Punishments could be meted out for Category Three offences, the infractions described as in the rule book as (i) striking, or attempting to strike with arm, elbow, hand or knee. Another sub-section of this rule is (vi); Contributing to a melee.

The penalty for such offences are a one-match suspension in the same code at the same level. Another charge comes under Disruptive Conduct by Players, Team Officials or Supporters and the punishment for this 'shall be at the discretion of the Council or Committee-in-Charge.'

The separate charge of Misconduct Considered to have Discredited the Association, which carries the penalty of a minimum of eight weeks suspension, with 'debarment and expulsion from the Association may also be considered.'

Belfast Telegraph


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