Tipperary legend Michael ‘Babs’ Keating has called on the GAA to take referee Diarmuid Kirwan to task for his role in last month’s Nowlan Park suspension saga.
Wexford boss Davy Fitzgerald picked up an eight-week ban for encroaching onto the pitch during the Allianz league semi-final tie while Tipperary player Jason Forde, whom Fitzgerald clashed with, received a two-match ban.
Forde was successful, to a degree, with a plea to a Central Hearings Committee on Wednesday night, as his proposed ban from the Central Competitions Control Committee was reduced from two matches to one.
As things stand, the Silvermines man is suspended for Tipp’s Munster championship quarter-final clash with Cork on May 21, though county officials have the option of an appeal to the Central Appeals Committee (CAC).
Forde was initially sanctioned under a rule dealing with “any type of assault on an opposing team official”, but this was downgraded at the CHC meeting to “contributing to a melee”, carrying the lesser punishment.
A Tipp spokesman said they had not yet decided whether to request a CAC meeting and would do so when they have received and considered the CHC’s written notification.
Former All-Ireland winner Tipp player and manager Keating blamed match official Kirwan for prompting the flashpoint by not handing Wexford a free in the buildup to Noel McGrath’s first-half goal for Tipp.
Keating said: “At the end of the day, the man that caused the problem, will he be put to the end of the line [of referees]? I’ll be happy then. At the end of the day, he was the man that caused the problem.
“If he refereed the match as it should have been refereed, Davy wouldn’t be in trouble and Jason Forde wouldn’t be in trouble.
“There wasn’t one free, there was three frees nearly for that incident [before the McGrath goal].
“Look, Davy knows well that he has to pay the price for what he did. So long as Diarmuid Kirwan pays the same price, I’ll be content.”
Keating is odds with Fitzgerald, however, who said after the defeat to Tipperary that he “could not blame Diarmuid Kirwan”.
“Let me make this clear, I could not blame Diarmuid Kirwan,” said Fitzgerald last month. “I thought he was very good, very fair. He’s one of the top referees. I will not criticise him. In a game you’re going to get one or two things either way. But just unfortunately, that one hurt us at the time.”
Keating was speaking at Croke Park’s GAA museum at the launch of a new exhibition entitled, ‘Imreoir to Bainisteoir’, which celebrates 30 GAA figures that have won All-Irelands as both a player and manager.
He said that he was outraged by the two-match ban initially handed down to Tipp midfielder Forde.
“It’s wrong to think that you could be killed out there on the pitch with a belt of a hurley, a serious belt, and [the offender] will get one match and then you see what Jason Forde got matches for,” gasped Keating.
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