Three Co Galway hurlers have secured a High Court injunction preventing the county's GAA authorities from taking disciplinary action against them arising out of an alleged assault on a referee.
Lasy year the three, all from the Mullagh club, received 12-week suspensions following a game in last year's Galway senior club championship. Those suspensions were served, however earlier this month they all received notification that the County Board intends to recommence the disciplinary process.
Today Ms Justice Mary Laffoy granted Conor Dervan, David Glennon and John Rafferty, all of Mullagh, Co Galway, an interim injunction preventing the Galway Co GAA Board from suspending the three from playing hurling and from entering into a disciplinary process that would result in their suspension.
The Judge granted the order on an ex-parte (one side only) basis, made the matter returnable to later this week. In their proceedings all three players argue that they have been denied fair procedures.
The court heard from Johnathon Kilfeather SC for the three hurlers who said the suspensions arose out of a semi final against Loughrea which was played Athenry on October 18 last, resulting in a one-point loss to Mullagh
Following the game it was alleged that the referee in the game Mr Christy Helebert was assaulted by the Mullagh players, which under the rules of the GAA is a category 5 infraction. A suspension of 48 weeks is proposed for any player found guilty of this.
Last November, following a decision taken by the Galway County Board, the three players were suspended for 12 weeks. No appeal was lodged The period of suspension ended in mid-January. The players assumed that the matter was at an end, as they had not appealed the decisions.
Counsel said that the decision to re-hear the matter is due to a directive from the GAA's Centre Competitions Control Committee. Counsel said that the CCCC had raised concerns about how disciplinary matters had been handled by the Galway Co Board's Hearing Committee.
Counsel said that it appeared that the CCCC wants the Galway Board to enforce a penalty of 48 weeks. Counsel said that it was their case that the CCCC's actions are an unlawful interference with the original disciplinary hearing.
Solicitors for the players attempted to get the GAA's Dispute Resolution Authority to get involved, however the DRA informed them that it had no jurisdiction to deal with the matter.
Counsel said that the players did not wish to come to the High Court to seek a resolution, but were left with no choice. Counsel said that Conor Dervan as a member of the Galway senior hurling panel and since being notified of new proceedings has been unable to play in the Walsh Cup or the National hurling league.
Any lenghty suspensions would also effect David Glennon, who the court heard was man of the match for Galway in last year's All Ireland minor hurling final. John Rafferty as a club hurler has been unable to resume playing with his club.