Dublin defender Kevin O’Brien’s hearing over alleged biting incident against Donegal set for Wednesday night
CCCC’s preliminary decision to recommend a three-match ban will be contested by O’Brien
Rory O’Carroll (right) seen here in action against Michael Murphy in a Sigerson Cup match for UCD against DCU made his comeback from injury in a weekend challenge game.
Dublin won’t know until later in the week whether or not defender Kevin O’Brien is free to play in Sunday’s Allianz Football League final against Tyrone as the disciplinary process into the alleged biting offence drags on for at least several more days.
The player has requested a date with the Central Hearings Committee (CHC), after the Dublin County Board were informed last Wednesday evening that the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) had recommended a three-match suspension for a category III offence. This followed the CCCC investigation into claims by Donegal that a Dublin footballer had allegedly bit Paddy McBrearty in the league match back on April 7th.
Dublin had requested a hearing as early as possible, particularly with Sunday’s showdown against Tyrone fast approaching, and despite speculation that the CHC would hear the player’s case last night, it is now expected to take place tomorrow night.
Contest the ban
What is certain is the CCCC’s preliminary decision to recommend a three-match suspension will be contested by O’Brien, named in this newspaper last week as player facing the offence. Indeed O’Brien, the 2012 Under-21 All-Ireland winning captain, immediately indicated his intention to contest the ban, denying the allegation of biting, and requested that a hearing take place before the league final.
Although there is no mention in the GAA’s playing rules about how to punish such an offence, it is understood the player has been charged under Rule 5 (aggressive fouls), category III - 5.11 which states: “To inflict injury recklessly on an opponent by means other than those stated above [kick, stamp, strike].”
The biting allegation was made by both McBrearty and Donegal after the match in Ballybofey, and, in unusual circumstances, it was mentioned in both referee reports as Michael Duffy had to replace the injured referee Pádraig Hughes.
The Dublin County Board have also been denying the allegation from the outside, chairman Andy Kettle saying at the time the Donegal player sustained “a bruise”.
O’Brien, interestingly, didn’t feature in Dublin’s victory in a challenge against Galway on Saturday evening, a game to mark the opening of Round Towers’ club new sporting facility. After lining out at corner back in Dublin’s one-point win over Donegal on April 7th, O’Brien started at full back in the semi-final win over Mayo a week later, on April 14th, and would be expected to retain one of those positions for Sunday's league final.
In the meantime, manager Jim Gavin does have fresh options, as Rory O’Carroll, James McCarthy and Kevin Nolan all featured prominently in Saturday’s challenge game to suggest their injury woes are behind them, as did Michael Fitzsimons.
O’Carroll hadn’t played since last month’s league win over Kildare due to minor ankle surgery, while McCarthy had been nursing an ankle ligament problem since Ballymun Kickhams’ All-Ireland club final defeat on St Patrick’s Day. Nolan has also been slowly getting back into action after illness and injury, as was Fitzsimons, his fellow All-Ireland winner from 2011, he did briefly feature in Dublin’s league semi-final win over Mayo.
It remains to be seen how many of those resume starting positions on Sunday, and indeed O’Brien’s availability or otherwise may influence that. But Dublin boast an increasingly healthy panel, the main absentee being Ciarán Kilkenny, who is still nursing knee medial ligament damage.
Tyrone’s main injury concern is Peter Harte, who will miss Sunday’s game as he recovers from the hamstring injury sustained in their semi-final win over Kildare, although it is expected both Joe McMahon (groin) and Ronan O’Neill (hamstring) will be fit for selection.
Sunday’s curtain-raiser is the Division Two final between Westmeath and Derry, and it is expected Derry manager Brian McIvor will hand the captaincy armband to second vice-captain Patsy Bradley. Team captain Mark Lynch is still doubtful because of the hand injury which has kept him out since last month, while his vice-captain Dermot McBride is also doubtful to start, and McIver has indicated his unwillingness to take risks with players ahead of the Ulster championship quarter-final against Down at Celtic Park on June 2nd.
Better news is that Eoin Bradley in back to full fitness following a period sidelined with a hamstring injury, and there was welcome news too for Paddy Bradley who has received the all-clear from his cruciate ligament injury, although there is still no indication whether he will return to the Derry panel.
Finally, Galway hurling captain Fergal Moore is expected to be back to playing fitness in ample time for their first date in the Leinster championship on June 16th. Moore sustained minor concussion following a heavy collision with Kilkenny’s Walter Walsh during the early stages of Sunday’s hurling league semi-final, but the injury proved much less serious than first feared.