Tipperary secretary's report: Jason Forde was found ‘guilty by association’

Tipperary GAA secretary Tim Floyd has claimed that Jason Forde was found “guilty by association” earlier this year when he served a one-match suspension for his infamous clash with Davy Fitzgerald.

Tipperary secretary's report: Jason Forde was found ‘guilty by association’

Forde was initially hit with a proposed two-match ban, and Wexford boss Fitzgerald eight weeks, after their high profile coming together in the Allianz League semi-finals at Nowlan Park.

Floyd, writing in his report to the upcoming Tipperary annual convention, described Forde’s role in the incident as “trivial”.

A Central Hearings Committee agreed with Tipperary and downgraded the suspension to a single game for contributing to a melee.

Tipperary also challenged this charge and claimed that “Jason Forde could not have contributed to a melee if there was no melee”, alleging the numbers weren’t large enough to constitute a melee.

According to Floyd, the chairman of the CHC defined a melee as “three or more pushing and shoving” and concluded that as Forde barged Fitzgerald during the flashpoint, the infraction was proven.

In response to the saga, one of the motions to Tipp’s convention this Sunday will propose that a melee be defined in the rule book as including “a minimum of five players”.

Silvermines man Forde ultimately sat out the county’s Munster championship defeat to Cork in May and Floyd argues strongly that the punishment didn’t fit the crime.

“We decided against going to the Disputes Resolution Authorities (sic) as Jason felt it was becoming too much of a distraction before an important Championship game and so he served his one-match ban on the sidelines against Cork just two weeks later,” writes Floyd.

“It’s very frustrating and disappointing to lose a disciplinary hearing, especially when you see similar incidents in every game not being investigated.

“I still believe Jason Forde was just guilty by association in an incident that received wide-scale publicity because of the high profile of one of the personalities involved.

“The definition of a melee as being a minimum of three people involved is still an issue of contention with me and I’m hoping to have it defined in the GAA Official Guide by passing a motion at our County Convention to be sent to Congress for consideration.”

Wexford chief Fitzgerald sparked the incident by entering the pitch to remonstrate with referee Diarmuid Kirwan only to jostle Niall O’Meara before being similarly jostled by Forde.

Floyd said that this jostling by Forde was initially labelled an assault, leading to the proposed two-match ban.

“We convinced the CHC as they concluded that jostling and pushing was not deemed an assault and so they decided that the infraction as alleged was not proven,” writes Floyd.

“Unfortunately they decided that the evidence did disclose an infraction less serious, that is to say ‘to contribute to a melee’ for which they were imposing a one-match suspension.”

Meanwhile, Floyd also expresses concern about attendances at county finals in Tipperary.

“My report to convention in 2012 contained a question, ‘Where have all the crowds gone?’ This was prompted by poor attendances at our county senior hurling finals for three years in a row, which were averaging around 6,500 to 7,000. This downward spiral continued over the past few years, plummeting to a record low of 5,606 in 2015.”

This year’s final between Thurles Sarsfields and Borris-Ileigh drew an improved 8,076 though, as Floyd notes, it’s still well down on the 15,000 that turned out to watch the same sides in the 1952 final.

Floyd reveals that of that 8,076, just 4,739 actually paid in on the day as 2,009 juveniles were given free entry and 1,328 presented ‘match passes’ or were stewards or VIP guests.

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