The issue of violence at a GAA club game is once again in the news, this time in Limerick.
Ballysteen GAA club in Limerick have written to the Limerick County Board to express their dismay at the lifting of a suspension of a Ballylanders player following an off-the-ball incident in their recent county championship quarter-final, claiming that the lifting of the suspension raises questions about the integrity of the disciplinary process in Limerick GAA.
Midway through the second half of a championship quarter-final between the two sides, a melee broke out in which one of the Ballysteen players was struck, leaving him with severe facial injuries.
A straight red card was issued to the Ballylanders player over the incident.
Having played on in a daze for a minute or so, the player was substituted and brought to hospital. Upon examination, it was discovered that the player had suffered a cheekbone fracture, a lower eye socket fracture and a fracture to the bone behind the eyebrow. The player has also had a metal plate inserted to his jaw which will remain there for life, and has suffered a numbness to his jaw and to the side of his face that may never go away.
The player remains out of work following facial surgery.
In spite of the red card and attendant one-match suspension, the appeal on behalf of the Ballylanders' player was upheld and he was free to take his place in his club's subsequent semi-final.
A video of the incident is below. The incident takes place at the 18.08 mark.
The Limerick Leader have reported the contents of Ballysteen's letter to the Limerick County Board, the full details of which can be read here.
The letter said that "the Ballysteen club wants to make it clear we harbour no animosity or ill towards Ballylanders GAA club or its players and wish them the best of luck for the remainder of the championship. The successful appeal against an unprovoked assault to our player raises questions on the integrity of Limerick GAA’s disciplinary system and sets an example for both adult and junior players around the county that it’s completely unacceptable".
In response, county board chairman John Cregan said that the suspension was lifted by an independent hearings committee who reviewed video evidence.
“I think procedure to deal with such an issue has been exhausted", said Cregan. "The points that have been made in the letter and in good faith from the Ballysteen club will be brought to the attention of the secretary of the hearings committee for their consideration.
Any of us aren’t here for the business of trying to fudge, or trying to do harm or trying to offend anybody. I have simply outlined the procedures".