The GAA disciplinary process is again coming under the spotlight as Diarmuid Connolly and Dublin consider their next step against the forward’s 12-week suspension.
Connolly had been punished by the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) for laying his hand on the shoulder of linesman Ciarán Branagan during Dublin’s Leinster SFC quarter-final win over Carlow earlier this month.
The Central Hearings Committee (CHC) reviewed footage of the incident upon the request of Connolly and ultimately decided that the Dublin forward’s actions warranted a sanction for ‘minor physical interference with an official’.
The CHC upheld the ban after a near five-hour meeting held in Portlaoise that ended in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
So, what is the next appropriate course of action for Connolly, should he wish to continue the appeals process?
The St Vincent’s man may decide to accept the original decision but, after challenging it once already to the CHC, it is quite likely he will now take his appeal to Central Appeals Committee (CAC).
An appeal from Connolly must be lodged by Monday morning, though, very decisively, the CAC only considers the procedural aspects of the case, which would be linked to the meeting in Portlaoise, rather than re-hearing all the evidence – regarding the incident between himself and Branagan.
Should the ban remain upheld, it can either be accepted or taken to the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA) to cast the ultimate decision.
It is the final option available after losing at the CAC, and it was a DRA ruling in 2015 that allowed Connolly participate in the 2015 All-Ireland semi-final replay against Mayo following a red card in the previously drawn encounter.
Connolly will be unavailable for Dublin until their proposed All-Ireland semi-final in late August, but given that the forward has once taken his case all the way up to the DRA, there would be little or no surprise were he to do so again.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena.