Duffy defends process despite ‘loophole’ let-off

GAA Director General Páraic Duffy yesterday defended the Association’s disciplinary process but accepted ‘a loophole’ has allowed two high profile hurlers escape sanctions for their dismissals in the Allianz League Division One hurling final last week.

Duffy defends process despite ‘loophole’ let-off

It emerged on Friday that Kilkenny’s JJ Delaney and Tipperary’s Lar Corbett are eligible to play in the championship despite both receiving red cards in Nowlan Park eight days ago.

The pair utilised a rules anomaly discovered by Longford officials when challenging a ban imposed on Barry Gilleran following his sending off against Louth on April 7.

Duffy admitted he would have preferred that “this hadn’t happened” but accepted that the players can play despite their red cards.

Duffy recalled: “Match-bans came in at the start of 2012 and worked very well for the League and through the Championship; I think everybody was very happy that it was a better system than time-based suspensions. It was decided at the end of that (2012 championship) that we would bring a motion to Congress this year to make it permanent. There was a gap between the end of the championships last year and Congress this year so Central Council decided — I think it was the December meeting, before the start of the League and Championship — to extend the pilot scheme until Congress.

“Central Council did that on a the basis of a rule that says that it is the supreme governing body between Congresses. They had prepared a motion for Congress to make it permanent; it got through, virtually unanimous, 96/97%, so it’s now in rule.”

But then came Barry Gilleran’s red card in the last round of the league.

Duffy recounted: “CCCC (Central Competitions Control Committee) proposed a one-match ban, the Longford player asked for a hearing and at the hearing argued that the Central Council didn’t have the authority to extend the pilot into a second year.

“The hearings committee didn’t accept that and imposed a suspension; he took his case to the appeals committee and they sided with him, said that in order for the match-bans to have operated throughout this year’s League, it would have required a further rule change, a Special Congress.

“All I can say is the hearings committee is chaired by a lawyer who took one decision; the case was appealed to the appeals committee which is also chaired by a lawyer, who took a different view and that’s where it is.”

An embarrassment for the GAA, without question, yet also, says Duffy, a vindication of the process.

“I’d prefer this hadn’t happened and I’d prefer if the decision of Central Council had been upheld but you have to accept that we have a structure in place and it shows the robustness and independence of it.

“The only beneficiaries of it are the three players, I’m not aware of any more. I accept that it’s a loophole that allows JJ and Lar to play in the first round of the Championship when they shouldn’t have been allowed to so I would prefer that CAC had taken a different decision but I absolutely respect their right to interpret the rule differently and that’s what’s happened here.”

Duffy was speaking at the launch in Montrose yesterday of RTE’s 2013 championship broadcasting programme, and revealed that with the current contracts set to expire at the end of this season talks are already underway for the next round of broadcasting rights.

The GAA preference, he said, would be to remain with free-to-air broadcasters, who he feels are already doing a good job both as broadcasters and promoters.

“I think by and large we want to have most of our games on terrestrial television I don’t see any big change in that even though financially you might get more value for your rights (with pay-per-view).

“I think we have a responsibility as an organisation where I don’t think it (pay-per-view) would be on for us. To be fair to them (RTE) I know they have launched a new campaign around this year’s championship, ‘Fueling the Passion,’ I saw the first ads at the weekend and it was hugely impressive.

“One of the things we are really keen to do in terms of these rights is to make the games as widely available and as easily accessible as possible to the Irish diaspora. That’s a priority for us in terms of this year and the current rights.”

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