Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has responded to GAA President Liam O'Neill's criticism of the county's failure to provide evidence for the recent 'bite-gate' disciplinary hearing.
Donegal forward Patrick McBrearty, who was allegedly bitten by Dublin's Kevin O'Brien during a league game in Ballybofey last month, decided not to attend the hearing relating to the disciplinary action against O'Brien.
A three-match ban had been proposed for the Dublin defender, but this was duly quashed by the Central Hearings Committee with GAA President Liam O'Neill being critical of Donegal's supposed failure to see the disciplinary process through.
"We had no evidence provided on the game. People who had evidence didn't show and that's it. There's nothing we can do about it," said O'Neill in a recent newspaper interview.
"It (the disciplinary system) works when people co-operate with it and tell what happened – that didn't happen in this case. We were left with flimsy evidence and depending on direct evidence, which didn't show. That was it."
However, McBrearty's decision to stay away from the Croke Park hearing has been defended by McGuinness who argued that it should not have been left to the teenage forward to 'win the case'.
In an interview with RTÉ's Gaelic Games correspondent Brian Carthy, McGuinness said: "Patrick is the victim in this situation. I don't think he should have been dragged through the media for a week or ten days, having been the victim.
"The protocol from our own point of view, we reported it to the referee at half-time actually, and we reported it to the referee after the game.
"We followed the procedures then, and it was put into the hands of the CCCC (Central Competitions Control Committee). They had a strong enough case to ban the player.
"We wanted Patrick to go to the hearing, I wanted him to go to the hearing, and the County Board wanted him to go to the hearing, but Patrick didn't want to go to the hearing.
"It wasn't up to Patrick, in my opinion, to win the case for them. They had all the information. He felt he had said everything he had to say and put it in the report what had happened.
"Our doctor confirmed he was bit. The Dublin doctor confirmed he was bit. The hospital who took him in confirmed he was bit. The player in question apologised to him after the game for what he had done."
The Donegal boss suggested that GAA President O'Neill should have a better grasp of the situation given that he is a school teacher himself.
"I suppose the President of the Association has come out and made comments on it, but as you know he's a schoolteacher himself, and he should understand, I feel, that Patrick is a very young boy, he's only turned 19.
"The President should know that someone of that age is not fully developed and fully mature and doesn't want to get into a court room-like situation."
McGuinness added: "I think people should back off Patrick now and let him get on with his football. As I said, he's a very young boy and he's a very quiet lad.
"You can't push people into situations and you have to respect their own opinions at the end of the day and it didn't happen in this situation, and on top of that the finger was pointed at him.
"Hopefully now he can re-focus on his football and focus on (the opening Championship match against) Tyrone, because he is a very good talent."