GAA Football

Down likely to request hearings over GAA ban on Paddy Tally and loss of home venue

Down manager Paddy Tally is facing a 12-week touchline ban. Pic Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

THE Down County Board is likely to request two separate hearings to contest the GAA’s proposed penalties of a 12-week touchline ban for football manager Paddy Tally and the loss of home venue for a National League game over the county senior team’s alleged breach of the GAA training ban last month.

The county are currently mulling over their options and when contacted by The Irish News yesterday, Mourne chairman Jack Devaney elected not to comment on the penalties which, if imposed, could have a detrimental impact on Down’s 2021 season.

Down were found to be in breach of the GAA’s closed-season ban after undertaking a training session at Abbey CBS in Newry - Cork were hit with the same penalties over a group session held at Youghal Beach.

The proposed punishments will come into effect if Down accept the GAA ruling, or if they elect to go for a hearing and the decision of the hearing committee is that the penalties should be imposed.

Losing home venue for a breach of a training ban arguably cost Armagh dear in 2018. The Orchardmen were found to have stepped out of line by holding a training camp in Algarve and were then forced to play Clare in Division Two at Pairc Esler, Newry. The match ended in a draw and derailed Armagh’s promotion hopes that year.

Should Down contest the proposed penalties they will need to argue their case at two separate hearings. The 12-week ban imposed on manager Tally is for an alleged breach of GAA Rule 7.2e (misconduct considered to have discredited the Association) while the ruling on the loss of home advantage is an additional offence which has been imposed for the deemed breach of Rule 6.45 which precludes collective training outside of the specified window.

The anomaly in the punishment of manager Tally is that suspension for an infraction would normally begin from the date of that infraction, or the date of any subsequent hearing if it was upheld. If that were the case here, then if Tally were to accept his suspension today (February 3) his 12-week ban would end on April 12 but in this case the suspension will not come into effect until the, as yet unknown, date when inter-county training is permitted and that may not be until the middle of next month.

On Monday, the GAA ruled out a return to training by inter-county teams in the short term. Director General Tom Ryan said: “The incidence of the virus in the community remains at a level where it would be irresponsible for the GAA to permit a return to collective training at this moment in time.”

The dilemma for the Down County Board to consider is whether they should plead their case to Croke Park in the hope/expectation of having the penalties quashed or at least decreased but by taking that step there is also the risk that they could be increased.

It is understood that Down turned down an approach for a challenge game in January because it was in breach of the rules and the county is understood to be aggrieved, feeling that they have been singled out and made an example of by the GAA while other counties, who were known to be in breach of the closed season ban, have got off scot free.

Last month, Down said they did not expect to face any penalties as a result of the gathering at Abbey CBS on January 7. The PSNI arrived at the training session after receiving a call from a local resident but Down chairman Devaney said the police were "fully satisfied" that Northern Ireland's lockdown rules had not been broken. The PSNI did not take any action or impose a fine on the county.

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GAA Football