GAA Football

Queen's quartet set to be cleared in Sigerson Cup row

Queen's manager James McCartan was among those handed a proposed 12-week suspension by Higher Education GAA authorities. It's expected it will be overturned later on Tuesday
Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY are expected to have proposed 12-week suspensions for manager James McCartan and key forwards Ciaron O’Hanlon and Marty Clarke thrown out on Tuesday amid another Sigerson Cup controversy.

O’Hanlon, Clarke and Gregory McCabe were alleged to have been ineligible when they played against Maynooth in their first round clash last week. The three players, along with McCartan and the club chairman and secretary, were hit with 12-week suspensions from Higher Education competitions last week.

It was also proposed that Queen’s should be kicked out of the competition by the GAA’s Higher Education authorities, but the Central Hearings Committee (CHC) threw out that decision on Saturday.

McCabe’s proposed ban wasn’t upheld, while Clarke’s case was adjourned because of a medical issue. O’Hanlon and McCartan did not attend Saturday’s hearings as they were both on inter-county duty – O’Hanlon for Armagh against Laois, while McCartan was in charge of Down minors.

However, the failure of that pair to “provide a reasonable explanation for their non-attendance” – according to a CHC statement released yesterday – meant that the proposed 12-week penalties handed down by Higher Education GAA were upheld in the meantime. The CHC accepted Clarke’s “medical issue” as a reasonable explanation. All three are almost certain to be exonerated today.

The row once more centres on the eligibility of students attending Stranmillis University College to play for Queen’s. It is understood that CHC dismissed the case against Queen’s, but that the suspensions that remain were as a result of non-attendance of the respective individuals.

Students from Queen’s, Stranmillis and St Mary’s – the latter have a separate team that also takes part in the Sigerson Cup – all carry Queen’s student cards, which is understood to have formed the basis for Queen’s appeal.

Killeavy forward O’Hanlon and Down man McCabe were both involved in an identical scenario last year, when Queen’s were expelled from the competition for fielding the duo and Tony Donnelly against Sligo IT. They were later reinstated and the rule governing their eligibility was tweaked in a bid to avoid a repeat of such scenarios.

The Queen’s GAA secretary also had his 12-week suspension overturned on appeal, while their chairman failed to attend Saturday’s hearing, but is expected to be cleared at today’s hearing.

Queen’s will continue their Sigerson Cup campaign with a trip to face University of Limerick on Thursday.

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