GAA Football

Paddy Tally won't miss any Down games after ban reduced to eight weeks

Down boss Paddy Tally won't miss any of Down's National League games, and may not even miss a Mourne County training session, after having his ban reduced from 12 weeks to eight after an appeal. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Neil Loughran

PADDY Tally will not miss any of Down’s games at all – indeed he may not even miss a single training session – after his original 12-week ban was reduced to the minimum eight weeks by the GAA’s Central Hearings Committee (CHC).

The CHC met on Tuesday night to consider Tally’s challenge to a 12-week ban, which relates to a breach of the GAA’s training guidelines and the infraction in Rule 7.2 of “misconduct considered to have discredited the Association”.

When the sanctions were originally imposed by the GAA’s management committee a fortnight ago, it was stated that any ban would only take effect once inter-county training resumed. However that is not the case, with Tally’s ban instead commencing from the night of his CHC hearing. As a result, his suspension will end on April 6.

The Galbally man still has the option of bringing his reduced ban before the Central Appeals Committee if he is not satisfied with the findings of the CHC.

However, following last night’s latest update from the GAA’s Covid Advisory Group, inter-county training is not expected to return until after Easter (April 4) “at the earliest”, with the Allianz League – which was originally scheduled to start on the last weekend of February – getting under way in early May.

There could yet be changes to competitions and competition structures but, as it stands, this year’s truncated League will see counties split into regional sub-divisions of four teams. The Mournemen are in the proposed Division Two North alongside Mayo, Meath and Westmeath.

The Covid Advisory Group revealed that Irish government representatives had clarified that inter-county Gaelic Games activity is not covered under the current Level Five exemptions for elite sports, as had been initially understood by the GAA.

Meanwhile, Cork manager Ronan McCarthy is facing a similar charge in relation to a team-building session on Youghal beach around the same time.

Unlike Down, the Cork County Board has also chosen to challenge the recommended punishment of the forfeiture of one home match in the League, under Rule 6.45, which governs collective training outside of the window determined by the GAA. The hearings for that, and in relation to McCarthy’s appeal, are expected to take place next week.

Tally was originally hit with a three-month ban in response to a report of a team gathering on the grounds of Abbey CBS in Newry on January 5. At that time, inter-county training was set to resume on January 15, although that has since been pushed back.

Down County Board chairman Jack Devaney immediately denied that a training session had taken place after a member of the public alerted the PSNI to people “playing on the pitches”.

Having established that “no breaches of regulations had taken place as it was an elite team”, the officers left.

Devaney said that “around 18” players, including some new call-ups, had been present in two separate groups, where they were given programmes to follow in preparation for the resumption of collective training.

He added that Down had “adhered to the directives from the GAA and we will continue to do so”.

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GAA Football