GAA Football

Ulster don't get a fair shake at times: Stevie McDonnell

Stevive McDonnell has aimed a broadside at disciplinary chiefs

FORMER Armagh captain Steven McDonnell has claimed that melees and disciplinary incidents are 'very easily brushed under the carpet' outside of Ulster.

The All-Ireland winner is satisfied that Armagh players Stefan Campbell, Aidan Nugent and Rian O'Neill have been cleared to feature in Sunday's grudge provincial SFC showdown with Donegal though is frustrated about the overall episode.

The three players, along with Ciaran Mackin, were retrospectively banned following a melee during last month's final round Allianz League tie between the same counties.

Aside from Mackin, who will reportedly miss out on the Ballybofey tie through injury anyway, they were all cleared following appeals, leaving Donegal to count the cost of their acceptance of sanctions handed down to Odhran McFadden-Ferry and Neil McGee.

"There should be a level of consistency across the board," claimed McDonnell. "If it happens in one game, they should not be treated any differently than if it happens in another game.

"You know, when it happens between Dublin and Kerry, it is very easily brushed under the carpet. It is 'handbags stuff', as per Sunday Game pundits. But when it happens between northern counties particularly, or Ulster counties, more of an issue is made of it.

"It is probably trial by media, to an extent, but listen, at the end of the day all we ever want is a bit of transparency and a bit of consistency across the board. You can't treat one county one way and another county another way."

McDonnell reckons there was a clear focus from disciplinary authorities to make an example of Armagh.

O'Neill's proposed suspension came after the initial sanctions were dished out and McDonnell feels that in the Crossmaglen man's case, 'there seemed to be a target on Rian O'Neill's head'.

"Yeah, well we believe there was probably a focus on trying to get Armagh players suspended for this particular game for whatever reason," said McDonnell. "We are unsure (of the reason) but we believe that was the case."

Asked why he thought that may be, McDonnell shrugged.

"I am really unsure, I don't know," said the Killeavy man. "To be honest, I don't know what Armagh did in the past to make them such a high profile juggernaut in terms of trying to make an example of them but the reality is I have seen probably more incidents down the the end of the day, these melees are pulling and dragging, mostly pulling and dragging, and, yes, we have seen incidents where players have been on the ground and in headlock situations.

"We don't like to see that whatsoever. Most of it is pulling and dragging and that's what it is and if it's dealt with efficiently and fast then it should be done with."

McDonnell said he expects both teams to arrive at Sunday's encounter armed with a 'siege mentality' and believes it will be 'hot and heavy' at times.

"You would want it to be hot and heavy this weekend, it's an Ulster championship match," he said. "If it wasn't hot and heavy you'd be asking questions of both teams. There's a lot at stake."

Electric Ireland has announced a five-year extension to its sponsorship of the Electric Ireland GAA minor championships and Electric Ireland Higher Education GAA leagues and championships. Electric Ireland will also become the title sponsor of developmental hurling competition the Electric Ireland Celtic Challenge.

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GAA Football