Limerick question legitimacy of final loss

Limerick will ask Croke Park to review the legitimacy of their Division 1B final defeat after it was revealed Dublin unknowingly fielded an illegal player.

Limerick question legitimacy of final loss

Paul Ryan, who scored 1-8 against Limerick in Thurles on April 6, had been sent off for a straight red card offence in the round three game between the counties in Croke Park on March 16.

Dublin’s free-taker duly served a one-match ban and missed the following weekend’s game against Wexford.

However, as Lar Corbett and JJ Delaney’s four-week suspensions have highlighted, the GAA’s Central Appeals Committee deemed Central Council were wrong to extend the trial basis of match bans into this year.

After a successful experiment in 2012, match bans, which linked league and Championship games, were made permanent at Congress in March.

However, the CAC ruled in the case of Longford footballer Barry Gilleran that the GAA should have reverted to time-based bans from January 1.

Under the category of offence, a one-match suspension equates to a four-week ban, meaning Ryan, unbeknownst to him or Dublin, had not finished serving his accurate ban by the time the Division 1B final came around.

In a statement released to The Irish Examiner last night, Limerick chairman Oliver Mann said they will be following up the matter with Croke Park.

However, he stressed Limerick fully appreciate Dublin had no knowledge that they breached the rule.

“At the outset, I would like to state that Limerick GAA is no way saying Dublin deliberately fielded an illegal player in the Division 1B hurling league final,” read Mann.

“However, in the light of Barry Gilleran, Lar Corbett and JJ Delaney’s situations, this may now appear to be the case.

“As the timeframe for an objection has long passed, Limerick are not considering going down that road.

“The CCCC (Central Competitions Control Committee) can, however, of its own accord investigate the composition of any team taking part in a competition under its control.

“For the sake of everybody, we hope that they clarify this particular situation as soon as possible.”

Limerick lost 1-16 to 1-15, with Ryan contributing 1-8, all from placed balls.

Limerick’s case is strengthened further by the fact they did not pick up any straight cards in any of their five round games in Division 1B, meaning, unlike Dublin, they didn’t benefit unwittingly from the disciplinary anomaly.

Longford’s Gilleran was sent off for a straight red card offence in the county’s final Division 2 game against Louth. He brought his case to the CAC who adjudged a Special Congress was needed to extend the trial time-frame of the trial basis for match bans into this year’s league. Match bans are in rule from the start of the Championships, which began last weekend.

Gilleran is now free to face Wicklow in Longford’s Leinster SFC preliminary round game in Aughrim on May 26 as his four-week enforced spell on the sidelines elapsed last weekend.

Corbett and Delaney are also eligible for their counties’ respective provincial openers against Limerick and Offaly on June 9 as their bans are completed on midnight June 1.

Whether this latest development will aid Limerick’s cause in changing the league format will prove interesting.

However, CCCC secretary Pat Doherty yesterday said the match suspensions, while inaccurate, were issued in good faith.

“There would be an awful lot of Paul Ryans out there. Anyone say in the first round of the National League or any match in the National League (who was sent off and served a one-match ban) would have played games in a four-week period.”

Last month, Mann confirmed Limerick would be writing to Croke Park about the possibility of Central Council reconsidering the 2014 structure.

GAA director general Páraic Duffy has insisted next year’s format, which would see Limerick remain in Division 1B but with an all-but-guaranteed quarter-final against Division 1A opposition, is not set in stone but a change would require a two-thirds majority backing at Central Council. Limerick were assigned to the six-team Division 1B in 2011 despite earning promotion with a 100% record from the old Division 2.

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