18 May


Posted by Darren Kelly in Features,News | May 2017

When Joe Brolly finishes his weekend duties on the Sunday Game, he is rumoured to be heading to Carrigstown to end the Katie kidnapping saga finally.

Maybe that’s our imagination running wild but he stepped in to finish a circus act regarding an Antrim footballers’ suspension. Matt Fitzpatrick was banned for 48 weeks for allegedly giving false evidence and has had it overturned allowing him face Donegal in the Ulster Championship.

We’re not going to get into what Fitzpatrick did or didn’t do, what he said or didn’t say. This column quite isn’t long enough for all the minute details. But like the Fair City scriptwriters turning a quality story into a drawn-out burden, the GAA’s disciplinary system has come out looking ridiculous.

We not aware of what defence Brolly came up with to free Fitzpatrick but does the organisation ever wonder why there are so many loopholes in their system?

The incident occurred during the Antrim/Armagh league match in March and it became known after the Orchard County provided video evidence trying to get one of their players out of trouble? So, a referee did not report it, nor the opposing team or official in the stand. It was found by accident.

The player couldn’t be identified so rather than seek further footage (anybody videoing games must have permission from headquarters so a list should be in place), they act on the word of one official – a manner that can’t follow any official criteria I’d imagine.

And then, after all that, they hand out a suspension for giving false evidence and a 48-week ban that was never going to stick. But when that was done, another committee overturns it.

A player was tried with no sufficient evidence, named from unclear footage, sentenced, overturned, sentenced again, and overturned again! It doesn’t matter who’s right, it shows that an inconsistent procedure coupled with an inconsistent decision making process leaving the GAA looking silly.

If Fitzpatrick committed the crime, he should do the time! But if video evidence is to be used, the GAA must ensure they have proper cameras to utilise. Brolly’s heading to Fair City to get Katy’s enclosure overturned so she can return to her family. And that doesn’t even sound as ridiculous.

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