Ban rules Cloonan out of final

AS expected, Athenry full-back Diarmuid Cloonan - younger brother of team captain Eugene - has been ruled out for the All-Ireland club hurling final with James Stephens in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day.

Cloonan and Toomevara’s John O’Brien each received a 12-week suspension from the Games Administration Committee, arising from the incident in the All-Ireland semi-final in Ennis last month. It means that Cloonan will also be ineligible for Galway’s remaining games in the Allianz League.

Athenry secretary Jarlath Cloonan, the player’s uncle, described it as a blow to the player, as well as to the club’s chances of winning a fourth title.

“He won a medal in 2001, but he was too young to start in that final or in 2000,’’ he said.

“Naturally, we would love to go to Croke Park with a full team, but we will be without one of our inter-county players. The rules state that the referee’s decision is final and we have to accept that,’’ he said.

Twelve-week suspensions were also imposed on two players from Kilmurry-Ibrickane - Evan Talty and Michael Hogan - who were dismissed in the All-Ireland club semi-final against Ballina Stephenites two weeks’ ago.

Meath hurler Sean Reilly was similarly suspended for the same term. Former Kerry footballer Eamon Breen received a four-week suspension following his dismissal when playing for Finuge in the All Ireland club championship against Tulsk on February 19.

Four week suspensions were imposed on Meath’s Nigel Crawford and Pierce McKenna (Cavan), who were both sent off in recent NFL games.

Further suspensions were imposed on Meath hurler Sean Reilly (12 weeks); Barry McGinn (Wolfe Tones); David Poinard (Leitrim); John O Dwyer (Derry), and Richie Grimes (Robert Emmets) - all of four weeks.

Both finals will take place in Croke Park on March 17, with Athenry meeting James Stephens at 2.15pm, followed by the football decider between Ballina Stephenites and Portlaoise at 3.40pm.

The junior and intermediate hurling finals will be played on March 28 in Semple Stadium, Thurles. In Junior, Oran (Roscommon) will play Galmoy (Kilkenny) at 1.45pm and Kildangan (Tipperary) will meet Carrickshock (Kilkenny) in the intermediate final at 3.30pm.

The junior and intermediate football championship finals will also be played on March 28 in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise.

The junior final will get underway at 1.15pm, between Finuge (Kerry) and Stewartstown from Tyrone. Carbery Rangers (Cork) and Pomeroy Plunketts (Tyrone) meet in the intermediate final (3pm).

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