Kerry hopes rise as Galvin case sent back

 

THE SIX-WEEK saga involving the Kerry football captain Paul Galvin is set to continue after the Disputes Resolution Authority yesterday judged the case must be reheard by the Central Hearings Committee.

A three-man committee consisting of barrister Pat Purcell, solicitor Brian Rennick and John Fay of the Longford county board "quashed" the 24-week suspension, citing "procedural irregularities" at the Central Hearings Committee hearing on June 23rd "which were in breach of his right to fair procedures and to a fair hearing."

What "procedural irregularities" means was not been revealed by the DRA, so it will join the growing file of "technical" solutions to GAA disciplinary cases.

In the meantime, Galvin remains suspended but for the first time since this process began there is a real chance he will be available for Kerry's third-round qualifier match, over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

A new CHC committee will be formed in the coming days.

Galvin was suspended for six months after slapping the notebook from the hand of referee Paddy Russell following his dismissal for a second yellow card in the Munster championship match against Clare on June 15th. He was also sanctioned for verbal abuse of Russell and linesman Michael Meade, who recommended the second yellow card following an incident with Clare's John Hayes.

The CHC upheld the initial decision by the Central Competitions Control Committee to give Galvin six months, effectively ending his season, but that decision has now been "quashed" by the DRA.

The initial ban was based on three categories of offence under Rule 143 (b); Category I (being ordered off on foot of a second cautionable offence); Category II (abusive language towards a referee or linesman, which carries a minimum four-week suspension) and Category IV (minor physical interference with an official - eg, laying a hand on, pushing, pulling or jostling - threatening, or abusive conduct toward, or threatening language to a referee or linesman).

"Where there is light there is hope," was the simple mantra of the Kerry county board chairman Jerome Conway last night when comment was sought. The Kerry camp are understandably keeping quiet while the case continues.

Hope of a reprieve though will have soared within the county as the rules allow scope to give Galvin a 12-week ban, which would make him available for September 21st, when Kerry would hope to be contesting the All-Ireland final.

Equally, a frustration exists that the case continues to overshadow onfield matters.

"He has the full backing of the people of Kerry," said a former team-mate, Dara Ó Cinnéide, on RTÉ radio yesterday. "There is huge sympathy for the man but many were hoping for an end to the proceedings today

"Since he came onto the scene in 2004 he has added an awful lot to the Kerry football teams . . . He is a vital cog that was noticeably missed, along with Declan O'Sullivan, the last day against Cork. It's the amount of breaking ball that we didn't win in the last performance that wouldn't be too satisfactory."

The All-Ireland champions are due to play one from Donegal or Monaghan, Tyrone or Westmeath, Kildare or Limerick and Laois or Down the weekend after next. The draw will be made this Sunday once the round-two qualifier matches are complete.

The issue of discipline has been a persistent problem for the GAA presidencies of Seán Kelly and the incumbent Nickey Brennan, the summer headlines dominated since 2005 - and the infamous Tyrone versus Armagh Ulster final at Croke Park - by protracted appeal processes.

Dublin player Colin Moran had a four-week and one-match suspension "quashed" last week, allowing him to play in the Leinster football final. It was widely agreed video evidence appeared to exonerate Moran, but the player himself admitted this week he had received no explanation for the turnaround.

A three-man DRA tribunal are still "putting the detailed reasons for this decision together", said DRA secretary Liam Keane.

"Most of the list of arguments put forward by the Moran defence were rejected," said Keane, who added the suspension was overturned as "the decision to suspend (Moran) was irrational".

The CCCC asked the referee Pádraig Hughes to look at the video evidence, and as a result Moran's yellow card was upgraded to a straight red and he was subsequently suspended.

Either way, the DRA was put in place to offer players an outlet other than the High Court. It has, however, also increasingly highlighted flaws in the GAA's regular disciplinary process.

GALVIN CASE TIMELINE

Sunday, June 15th:Kerry 1-14 Clare 0-5, Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney. On his maiden voyage as Kerry captain, Galvin is sent off in the 54th minute for a second yellow card after repeated entanglements with Clare wing-back John Hayes (who is also sent off later).

Galvin loses it - slapping the notebook out of referee Paddy Russell's hand. It requires the intervention of vice-captain Tomás Ó Sé to persuade the Finuge native to leave the field. Galvin was also keen to speak with linesman Michael Meade, who had recommended the second yellow.

"Obviously Paul was very frustrated and I think he felt himself that he was sinned against in that situation," said Kerry manager Pat O'Shea. "I haven't seen the incident on video, so I am not sure until we have a look at it. A game of football is all about emotion and he probably showed a little too much emotion."

Further misfortune strikes the All-Ireland champions as former captain Declan O'Sullivan is stretchered off with a serious knee injury.

Monday, June 16th:Realising the disciplinary arm of the GAA is poised to take action, a contrite Galvin appears on RTÉ's Six One News: "The exact details of what happened I don't really want to get into because I don't think this is the right place, there's a relative body that will deal with that.

"Clearly what happened was wrong and I was out of order to do what I did. I regret what I did. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to the match officials, to the management of Kerry and my team-mates and particularly the Kerry supporters, who I feel like I've let down."

A 12-week suspension is expected from the Central Competitions Control Committee under Rule 143 (b); Category IV offence (minor physical interference with a referee).

Tuesday, June 17th:"Unfortunately now, I just hope I don't pay the ultimate price and miss the whole championship," says Galvin on Radio Kerry.

Later in the day the CCCC recommends a 24-week suspension that effectively ends Galvin's season.

Wednesday, June 18th:The Kerry County Board label the proposed suspension as "excessive" and confirm the case will be taken to the Central Hearings Committee.

Tuesday, June 24th:The CHC uphold the 24-week suspension.

Friday, June 27th:The Central Appeals Committee upholds the CCCC suspension (Monaghan's Paul Finlay also sees his appeal against an eight-week ban for verbally abusing a referee upheld). The Kerry county board and Galvin state they will make no announcement on their next step until after the Munster football final against Cork on July 6th.

However, Galvin seeks a hearing with the Disputes Resolution Authority on July 4th.

Sunday, July 6th:Kerry lose the Munster football final after a dramatic second-half comeback from Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Footballer of the year Marc Ó Sé receives a straight red card.

Friday July 11th:Ó Sé has his red card, four-week and one-match ban rescinded by the CAC.

Tuesday, July 15th:Galvin goes before the DRA but the hearing is held up due to a number of submissions and eventually adjourned, at 2.30am, until the following Monday. Other, more time-sensitive hearings are held that week with the suspension of Dublin's Collie Moran "quashed" without explanation, while all the information about the Paul Finlay hearing is released - the Monaghan footballer sees his suspension upheld.

Sunday, July 20th:Central Council is informed that the "announcement and rationalisation of decisions of the DRA was a matter totally at the DRA's discretion."

Monday, July 21st:The Galvin case is completed and the three-person arbitration committee convene to reach a final decision.

Tuesday, July 22nd:Media speculation sees the hold-up as advantageous to Galvin's suspension being reduced to 12 weeks. In the end, however, the DRA refer the matter back to a differently constituted CHC.

HOW THEY LINED UP

The DRA tribunal (in the Galvin case) was chairman Pat Purcell (barrister), Brian Rennick (solicitor) and John Fay (Longford County Board).

Paul Galvin was represented by the barrister Donagh McDonagh.

The various GAA committees who handed down decisions in the case have been represented by Patrick O'Reilly (barrister) who is assisted by the solicitor Larry Fenelon.

WHAT THE DRA SAID

"The DRA Tribunal which sat on the 15th and 21st July 2008 has quashed the decision of the Central Hearings Committee (CHC) made on the 23rd June 2008 in respect of Mr Paul Galvin.

"Whilst Mr Galvin accepted that an incident happened on the 15th June 2008 which warranted the commencement of disciplinary proceedings, the DRA Tribunal is of the view that procedural irregularities occurred at the CHC hearing on the 23rd June 2008 which were in breach of his right to fair procedures and to a fair hearing.

"The DRA Tribunal has directed as follows:

"(a) that the matter be re-heard by a newly convened and differently constituted CHC as soon as possible; and

"(b) that Mr Galvin remains suspended in the interim period and is not eligible to play Gaelic games until the disciplinary process has been concluded."