Limerick’s Gearóid Hegarty avoids sanction over head-high challenge

Tipperary’s Barry Heffernan was left concussed after incident in 70th minute of game

Limerick’s Gearóid Hegarty will be available for next weekend’s big league clash between holders Kilkenny and the All-Ireland champions after the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) decided to take no action against him for an incident at the end of the Limerick-Tipperary league match.

The wing forward was involved in a clash with Tipperary’s Barry Heffernan at the 70th minute in the Gaelic Grounds last Saturday, which resulted in the Tipp player being concussed.

The incident happened as Heffernan stooped to pick the ball and Hegarty came in to challenge and caught his opponent head-high with his shoulder and elbow.

Referee Seán Cleere of Kilkenny took no action at the time and so it was open to the CCCC to review the matter but it was decided that the incident would not be pursued any further.

The outcome is slightly surprising given that Referees Development Committee chair Willie Barrett is on the record as saying that challenges to the head would be a priority this year.

“Other codes are talking about head-high tackles and that they are dangerous and we put a renewed emphasis on them. They are dangerous.

“We had our seminar in Croke Park and we showed the fouls in a review of 2018 and we felt it was necessary for us to penalise them strongly and to continue to penalise them throughout the league and championship until we eradicate challenges to the head.”

Clare's Tony Kelly was slightly controversially sent off and suspended for one match for catching Tipperary's Pádraic Maher with his hurl in Thurles on the first weekend of the league.

Two suspensions that were handed down by the Central Hearings Committee concerned Armagh's Jamie Clarke and Pat Hughes of Sligo, who were both red-carded in football league matches against Clare and Down, respectively.

It is open to the players to appeal to the Central Appeals Committee but if they accept the one-match bans, they will miss their counties’ next outings. Sligo travel to Laois in round three and Armagh will play Meath in Navan.

There was bad news for Galway football manager Kevin Walsh when it emerged that injuries to Cillian McDaid (foot) and Declan Kyne (ankle) will mean that neither player is expected to line out again in this season's league campaign.

They are joined in dry dock this weekend, when the county visits Inniskeen to play Monaghan, by full back Séan Andy Ó Ceallaigh, who has a shoulder injury but is expected to recover within a couple of weeks.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times