Carlow manager Turlough O’Brien suspended for 20 weeks

Stephen Poacher and midfielder Brendan Murphy are also facing 12-week bans

Carlow manager Turlough O’Brien has been suspended for 20 weeks by the CHC. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Carlow manager Turlough O’Brien has been suspended for 20 weeks by the CHC. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Carlow’s football championship preparations have been thrown into disarray after manager Turlough O’Brien has had a 20-week suspension imposed by the GAA’s Central Hearings Committee (CHC), while team coach Stephen Poacher and midfielder Brendan Murphy are also facing 12-week bans.

Each of the suspensions arise from incidents at the end of the penultimate round of Division Three of the Allianz Football League at Dr Cullen Park on March 16th. The game saw Down secure victory by a single point, 0-15 to Carlow’s 1-11, thanks to an injury time point, from some distance, from Donal O’Hare; Carlow then lost their last round game to Laois, and were relegated back to Division Four for 2020, along with Sligo.

The incident, also captured by TV cameras at the ground, saw Cork referee James Bermingham requiring an escort from the field after being confronted by O’Brien, who felt his team had been on the wrong end of some harsh decisions through the game.

The GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) then took disciplinary action against O’Brien, alleging that he was guilty of “minor physical inference with a referee” and “threatening conduct towards a referee”. Poacher and Murphy faced similar charges and all three requested a hearing before the CHC, as is their right.

The CHC found the first charge not proven, but found O’Brien guilty “of threatening conduct” towards the referee, and imposed the 20-week ban, which will effectively rule O’Brien off of the sidelines for the rest of the season.

Poacher and Murphy’s hearings had a similar result – “minor physical inference with a referee” unproven and “threatening conduct towards a referee” proven, both imposed with a 12-week ban. However all three can now take their case to the Central Appeals Committee (CAC), a likely course given what’s at stake.

Carlow open their Leinster football championship campaign against the winners of Meath and Offaly on May 25th/26th; however, unless O’Brien is successful in his appeal, he will be sidelined from Carlow’s games until July 24th.

And Poacher will also be sidelined from that opening game, their suspensions not expiring until the following weekend, June 1st. Under strict rule, neither the manager, the player or the backroom members are permitted to take part in organised training or activities while under suspension.

The game also saw Down’s Paul Devlin and Kevin McKiernan red-carded on second bookings, while Carlow’s Shane Redmond was also dismissed on two yellow cards. Down however still fell just short of promoted, losing out to Laois and Westmeath. Carlow had earned promoted from Division Four in 2018, marking further progress under O’Brien’s reign, only to fall back a division this season.

The CHC also heard the case of Monaghan footballer Fintan Kelly, who was charged with a striking offence in the final round league game against Mayo, although on that charge, “no penalty was imposed, and the Committee ordered the players record to be amended accordingly”.

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