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Clubs and players feel wrath of Ulster Council

By Michael McGeary

Both Ballymacnab and Stewartstown have each been fined £2,500 arising from incidents after their Ulster club intermediate championship game in Casement Park.

In addition, a total of 12 players were suspended, five from the Tyrone champions, the suspensions ranging from four weeks to 36 weeks.

Both clubs now have the option of appealing, but the general consensus is that they should leave well alone.

For there was a feeling that the longer the investigation went on there was a possibility that both could have been thrown out of the competition.

To some that might appear harsh, but in the present climate with president Nickey Brennan determined to clean up the sport, that was a real possibility.

But both remain in the competition with the replay pencilled in for early in the New Year.

The real danger for both teams was that the Ulster Council might have sought to make an example of the guilty parties.

But then again it could be argued that both Tyrone and Dublin escaped censure after their Allianz League punch up in Omagh last season.

Earlier president Brennan had said he was aware of and concerned about the litany of disorder at club matches this autumn and winter.

"I've been very critical of incidents in some of our games. I've applauded provincial councils and county boards who have stood up to this problem and I would urge all our units to deal with these matters.

"It shows the importance of the new match regulations. Greater responsibility and more respect for officialdom are needed. We'll certainly give a lead at national level."

"There's no argument against that, but in fairness to the Connacht Council they took the incident seriously but the rule in question didn't have the effect of suspension."

Brennan deserves full marks for the manner in which he has met the disciplinary problem head on.

For far too long there has been a policy in the sport of tolerating gross acts of indiscipline.

The president deserves maximum support in his brave bid to root out the bully boys who do nothing but bring shame and ridicule on the sport.

The time for taking a lenient view of serious incidents, is over.

Referees too have a key role to play in all of this. Striking with the boot or fist is an offence that warrants a 12-week ban, but how often do we see this enacted.

Stewartstown players banned Anton Coyle, 36 weeks, Tony Donnelly, 36 weeks, Barry Bleeks, 24 weeks, Ryan Small eight weeks, Rory O'Neill four weeks.

Ballymacnab players banned: Philip McCone 36 weeks, , Dwayne McParland, 36 weeks, Stephen Kennedy, 12 weeks, Christopher Kennedy, eight weeks, Paul Kennedy eight weeks,, Damien McGeown, eight weeks Gary McKee, eight weeks.

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