Dublin set to be without Diarmuid Connolly for replay with Mayo

No other action to be taken after CCCC reviewed incidents from Sunday’s game

Dublin footballers face being without key forward Diarmuid Connolly after the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee proposed what is believed to be a one-match suspension for the player’s red-card offence in Sunday’s drawn All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo.

Surprisingly, this was the only proposed sanction after a review of the often fractious match – which means that Dublin’s Philip McMahon and Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor will not face any further action in respect of other incidents.

If the ban is accepted or imposed – as the player has a right to and presumably will seek a hearing – Connolly who is a current All-Star and nominee for 2014 Footballer of the Year, will be out of next Saturday’s replay.

The sending-off occurred in the 74th minute after an off-the-ball incident between Connolly and Mayo's Lee Keegan, who appears to bring down the Dublin forward, which causes a brawl on the ground during which the latter is seen to strike his opponent with the fist.

Whereas there is clear provocation, that is no defence and nearly every sport treats retaliation as an unjustifiable reaction.

There was better – and unexpected – news for Dublin manager Jim Gavin when it also emerged that McMahon will face no further action after being seen to throw a head-butt at Mayo's Aidan O'Shea, who later claimed that he had been on the receiving end.

Having reviewed the video the CCCC decided that the head-butt hadn’t connected. Under Category IV Infractions in the football playing rules however, 5.23 specifies “to strike or attempt to strike with the head”.

The CCCC are believed to have formed the view that prosecuting that case before the Central Hearings Committee would have had little prospect of success, as McMahon’s head could have connected had he wanted it to and therefore proving to the CHC’s satisfaction that he had “attempted” to head-butt would have been very difficult.

Another interpretation of the video would be that even if the Dublin player’s head hadn’t connected – which isn’t 100 per cent evident – he could still be attempting to strike, as O’Shea’s forearm can clearly be seen up against McMahon’s chest and could equally plausibly be seen to be restraining him.

The incident takes place in the same sequence of disorder that featured McMahon taking a dive clutching his head after a collision with O’Shea before receiving medical treatment despite no contact having been made.

Earlier this month the CCCC charged Tyrone player Tiernan McCann with "discrediting the association" after a similar example of feigning injury got Monaghan's Darren Hughes red carded. It was a test case, as feigning injury is a yellow-card infraction and the CHC rejected the attempt to introduce a new category of 'attempting to get an opponent sent off'.

O’Connor was involved in the incident that saw Dublin’s Rory O’Carroll’s participation in the match terminated within three minutes, as during a tussle in which O’Carroll was seen holding back his opponent, O’Connor swung his arm behind him, hitting the full back, which forced his withdrawal and required 10 stitches.

The CCCC are also believed to have looked at the incident when Johnny Cooper’s late, foot-first challenge on Diarmuid O’Connor in the 18th minute although, as referee Joe McQuillan showed the Dublin defender a yellow card, the matter had to be deemed ‘dealt with’.

Curiously both Mayo and Dublin have had something of a charmed existence when it comes to All-Ireland suspensions. Only recently Mayo defender Kevin Keane had a red-card struck down by the CHC despite striking Michael Murphy – a decision that attracted widespread criticism for its over-ruling of a referee's report.

A year ago Keegan, the player involved with Connolly, had a red card overturned between Mayo’s draw with Kerry and the replay in Limerick six days later.

Connolly himself escaped suspension for the 2011 All-Ireland final against Kerry after being sent off in the semi-final despite having been seen to strike Donegal replacement Marty Boyle.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times