Cillian O'Connor may avoid lengthy ban due to far too lenient GAA rule
The rules are the rules and Mayo's captain may well benefit from this one.
In the final minutes of Mayo's Allianz Football League Division 1 clash with Galway, Cillian O'Connor lost the run of himself.
There were heated scenes in the last 15 minutes of the game, in Salthill, with two brawls and three red cards handed out.
O'Connor, who had come close to a black card for blocking earlier in the match, was going after a ball that had spilled over the touchline and took exception to Eoghan Kerin crossing his path. He lashed out and sent the Galway player sprawling with a high elbow.
The incident was discussed on The GAA Hour with host Colm Parkinson and Conan Doherty in agreement that O'Connor had badly erred. Former Meath forward Cian Ward was a little more sympathetic.
Ward: "I think, in fairness to him, it was not a malicious thing. It was the usual thing of, 'This fella has come across my way; I'm going to give him a belt'. The fella he's hitting is tiny and he's just catching him high. I don't think he was deliberately trying to catch him high."
Doherty: "I think you're being kind there Cian."
Ward: "I don't think I am. He's 6-foot and the lads 5-foot-6 - what's he supposed to do, stoop down into a squat position to elbow him?!"
Doherty: "The ball is out of play. Maybe don't elbow him."
Ward: "Ach, it was a shoulder. Yer man knew what he was doing and he got what he deserved."
The referee was certainly in no doubt, on the day, and O'Connor was ordered off. He did not stop to complain.
Parkinson was not the only person in the country that felt O'Connor was set for a long ban - a month or longer - but the GAA rule-book may save the Mayo forward.
O'Connor was sent off for a Category Three offence:
'To strike or to attempt to strike an opponent with arm, elbow, hand or knee.'
In the GAA's rules, the circumstances behind or force of the elbow do not come into it. An impulsive strike out, a stray elbow swung while trying to get free of a marker or a deliberate elbow all get the same ban - one match minimum.
The only thing that would increase the ban would be for 'a repeat infraction'.
(1) Minimum: A One Match Suspension in the same Code and at the same level applicable to the next game in the combination of the National League/Inter-County Senior Championship, even if the game occurs in the following year.
(2) Minimum on Repeat Infraction: A Two Match Suspension in the same code and at the same level applicable to the next games in the combination of the National League/Inter-County Senior Championship, even if one or both games occur(s) in the following year.
This is nothing against O'Connor, of course. It is more that the 'elbow' definition is very broad and, in some cases, far too lenient.
The powers that be may yet take the referee's report and match footage into account when deciding O'Connor's fate.
No decision has been made yet as the league, aside from postponed games from last weekend, are scheduled for this week.