Lowry ban was overturned on a technicality


It Was confirmed yesterday that the six-month suspension served to Westmeath football manager Brendan Lowry was overturned because of a technicality involving the video evidence submitted at the original Leinster Council hearing.

Lowry, who was back in charge for his team's narrow loss to Leitrim on Sunday, appealed the decision to ban him because of his pitch incursion during the O'Byrne Cup final between Longford and Westmeath at Mullingar on February 6th.

He had not been present for the Leinster Council disciplinary hearing, sending an apology, and he subsequently said he was shocked at the length of the suspension. It would have effectively rendered him redundant for the remainder of the National League and a crucial part of Westmeath's championship campaign.

However, it emerged that Lowry was not forewarned of the video evidence which was used to illustrate his incursion and apparent contact with a Longford player. This formed the basis of the Westmeath appeal before the GAA's Management Committee in Croke Park last Friday evening.

"The evidence against Mr Lowry didn't come into the equation. Basically, it was contended that he was not aware that video evidence would be referred to in the case against him. He was entitled to prior information of this under official rules and the suspension was dismissed on that basis," a spokesperson for the Leinster Council explained.

The Leinster Council decision had represented a stark reversal of fortunes for Lowry, who was effectively facing the end of his tenure. The Westmeath County Board had already made plans for the selectors to assume control of the team for Sunday's league game. While a number of commentators had baulked at the perceived severity of the original ban, it was felt that the video evidence and the manager's failure to present himself at the hearing may have influenced the decision.

Meanwhile, Meath ought to learn today the nature of the transgression for which referee Brendan Gorman cited Ollie Murphy in his report into Sunday's controversial league tie against Derry.

Video evidence of the closing minutes of the match at Celtic Park show the Meath man making contact with Derry full back Sean Martin Lockhart, but opinion is divided as to whether or not he head-butted his opponent, as has been alleged. If the referee's report interprets Murphy's action as such, then he will receive an automatic three-month suspension from all inter-county activity under Rule 137.

Murphy was vociferously defended by manager Sean Boylan in the aftermath of the game and a spokesperson for the Meath management said they were resolute in their conviction that the accusations levelled against their player were inaccurate.

"As of now, we are waiting to see what Ollie has been reported for. But the general feeling is that the incident happened after a Meath goal and that Sean Martin Lockhart had been the aggressor in terms of the contact that took place. There is no denial that there was contact and neither player acted perfectly but Ollie would seem to be getting the full responsibility for what happened."

Murphy had scored a vital goal just before the incident.

Afterwards Boylan suggested that the Derry defender might admit that Murphy had been done an injustice, but a spokesperson for the Derry county board has reiterated that they have left the incident behind them and will not be commenting further.

"It is a matter between Ollie Murphy and the referee. The referee acted immediately on what he had seen and without help of the other officials. The video footage would seem to bear out fairly well what happened," said Derry PRO Gerry Donnelly.

"Sean Marty Lockhart also knows what happened and that his integrity is beyond question on this and he is happy to leave people to judge for themselves what happened. He won't be making any comment but it must be said that the aspersions that have been cast against him are ridiculous," said Donnelly.