Co Meath-based solicitor Brian Rennick has written a rare dissenting verdict on the Connolly ruling, only the second time in the panel’s 10-year history that a decision was not unanimously arrived at.
Former Supreme Court Judge Hugh O’Flaherty and solicitor David Nohilly both found that Dublin forward Connolly, in contesting his red card for striking Mayo’s Lee Keegan in the drawn All-Ireland semi-final last month, had not been afforded fair procedures by the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee.
However, Mr Rennick has claimed that Connolly was cleared to play in the replay on grounds that the Dublin star’s representatives never advanced.
In the dissent, he wrote: “I am of the view that the decision and reasons of the majority [O’Flaherty and Nohilly] in this case is fundamentally wrong in that it is, in fact, based on reasoning the arguments which were not canvassed by the claimant [Connolly] at all and as such are, in fact, the construct of the majority.”
Connolly was hit with a one-match ban by the committee for his red card.
Despite attempts to contest his suspension, both the organisation’s other disciplinary arms, the Central Hearings Committee and Central Appeals Committee, upheld the penalty.
In an 11th hour attempt to have the punishment rescinded, Connolly sat in front of the panel, an independent legal body set up by the GAA in 2005 to end a culture of disciplinary cases reaching the High Court.
After a seven-hour meeting in Dublin’s Regency Hotel the night before the replay, the majority of the tribunal panel, Mr O’Flaherty and Mr Nohilly, adjudged that the player had not been afforded “fair procedures” by the Central Competitions Control Committee. Connolly lined out for Dublin in their All-Ireland final win over Kerry on Sunday.