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Paul O’Connell verdict crucial on several fronts

Paul O’Connell, who was sent off in Sunday’s Heineken Cup match against the Ospreys at Thomond Park, will appear before an independent Disciplinary Hearing at ERC Offices in Dublin tomorrow.

French referee Christophe Berdos dismissed the Munster, Ireland and Lions lock in the 69th minute for appearing to strike Ospreys No 8 Jonathan Thomas with his elbow.

The length of the suspension O’Connell receives will depend on how the 69th minute incident is viewed and on factors such as his past record, which is pretty good.

From a Munster — and Irish — perspective the best case scenario would be a minimal two-week ban.

What Ireland won’t want to see is O’Connell being ruled out for a lengthy period which could include their RBS 6 Nations Championship opener against Italy in Rome on Saturday, February 5.

What is certain is that O’Connell will miss Munster’s Magners League clash with Ulster on New Year’s Day at Thomond Park.

The independent Judicial Officer appointed for tomorrow’s Dublin hearing is England’s Jeff Blackett.

Ulster also will be interested in the outcome of another case due to be heard tomorrow, Aironi’s Luca Redolfini having been cited for allegedly stamping/trampling on Biarritz Olympique flanker Imanol Harinordoquy.

The Italians are scheduled to play Ulster at Stadio Zaffanella in the final Heineken Cup group stage match on the weekend of January 21-23 and a suspension could rule out Redolfini.

Belfast Telegraph

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