McAvoy calls GAA disciplinary system overhaul

Ulster GAA secretary Brian McAvoy has called for changes to the GAA's disciplinary process in his annual report
Ulster GAA secretary Brian McAvoy has called for changes to the GAA's disciplinary process in his annual report

ULSTER GAA secretary Brian McAvoy has called for on overhaul of the GAA disciplinary system, which this year was “tested like never before.”

McAvoy, who was appointed secretary of Ulster GAA in 2016, made the case in his annual report that players and managers, when in the wrong, should accept their punishment rather than trying to find a way out.

There were many flashpoints involving Ulster teams throughout the season. Five players received red cards following a melee in the Armagh and Tyrone Allianz Football League clash back in February, four from the Red Hand county one from Armagh.

Padraig Hampsey, Kieran McGeary, Peter Harte and Michael McKernan, along with Armagh’s Greg McCabe, were all dismissed by referee David Gough and the four Tyrone players had their one-match ban upheld following an appeal.

Shane McGuigan’s plea to have his red card overturned was also rejected during the Allianz League when the Derry sharpshooter received his marching orders for verbal abuse of an official during their draw with Roscommon in round five.

McGuigan subsequently missed Derry’s crucial tie with Galway, which they ended up losing heavily and put the final nail in their promotion push.

Armagh were involved in another skirmish against Donegal in the final round of the League. Neil McGee and Odhran McFadden-Ferry accepted their punished and missed the Championship opener between the two teams.

Armagh challenged the bans placed on Stefan Campbell, Aidan Nugent and Rian O’Neill and successfully won their appeals, meaning all three men lined out in Ballybofey in the first round of the Ulster Championship.

Tyrone had Conor McKenna’s red card, picked up against Fermanagh in the preliminary round of the Ulster Championship, rescinded and the Eglish man was available for their quarter-final clash with Derry.

Greg McCabe received his marching orders during Armagh’s All-Ireland quarter-final with Galway while Blaine Hughes and Conor Turbitt received suspensions for their part in the melee that took place at the end of normal time.

Tiernan Kelly also received a hefty six-month ban for an alleged eye gouge on Galway full-forward Damian Comer, and Armagh did not appeal those suspension.

McAvoy believes that in an amateur sport, such as the GAA, the use of lawyers representing the player or manager in question, shouldn’t be the case.

“The GAA rulebook sets a standard akin to what is expected in a court of law. This should not be the case for an amateur sport,” said McAvoy in his annual report to the Ulster Convention.

“Surely there is a case, that where a process has been deemed to be incorrect or flawed in some way, the matter should be sent back for re-processing, rather than having the charge dismissed out of hand.

"There is clearly a fundamental flaw in a process which can absolve a ‘guilty’ party because of an error in procedure, even where there is clear evidence that an offence has been committed."