Sports

‘Geezer an easy target’

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

‘Geezer an easy target’ thumbnailARMAGH manager Kieran McGeeney. Picture: Columba O'Hare.

DEMOCRAT columnist Oisin McConville feels that Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney has become an easy target following the 12-week ban imposed on the Orchard boss.

The ban means that McGeeney will not be permitted to be on the sideline or the changing room in Newry's Pairc Esler for the crunch Ulster Championship with rivals Down on Sunday, June 4.

The GAA's Central Competitions Controls Committee has come up with the punishment after considering the referee's report into the Orchard County's Allianz FL Division 3 fixture with Antrim.

It is understood to stem from an incident with linesman Joe McQuillan during a game which three players, Conor Murray and Stephen Beatty of Antrim and Armagh's Stephen Sheridan, received red cards from referee Niall Cullen.

McConville feels that his former Armagh team-mate McGeeney is getting harshly treated.

“The Geezer ban is interesting but out of all the games I don't think there was too much to warrant abusing the referee or linesman. Joe McQuillan has a history with Armagh and nobody likes to be abused but could it really have been that bad to warrant a 12-week ban?

“That's three months, which is really extreme in terms of punishment."

With McGeeney banned from the changing room he won't be able to deliver a half-time team talk, which McConville feels is a massive blow, especially against neighbouring rivals such as Down.

“I suppose Geezer is an easy target for them as when he speaks he speaks with conviction, and that's great, but it could easily misconstrued as intimidating, when it is not," said McConville.

“When I initially heard about the ban I thought it wouldn't be too bad because he is in the stand. And the stand might suit him better as he may see more than he would at the sidelines. He is not allowed in the changing room before the game, which isn't massive, as he'll have the opportunity to speak to the players before they go into Pairc Esler.

“But half-time will be a real mess because he will not be permitted to communicate any messages. Who is going to take the half-time team talk?"

Of course Armagh are not short of leaders and captain Ciaran McKeever may have to play an even bigger role, if that's possible.

“It is far from ideal and Armagh Co Board have two more avenues of appeal but Croke Park seem to back up the referees and officials pretty stringently," McConville said.

"I have already said that Kieran McGeeney must think the world is against him as we were on the backend of a lot of bad decisions in Division Three of the National League and then what happened against Tipperary, only to be hit by this.

“It is disappointing as even though Armagh didn't get out of Division Three there were a few positives to take going into the game against Down but I suppose this ban will put a dampener on it.

“But we just have to get on with it. The lads will play another round or two of club fixtures and then we are into the countdown and players love the countdown to Championship.

It has been a while since the boys last played so I think Kieran be only too happy to see his lads in action."

McGeeney still has the option of taking his case to the Central Appeals Committee and the Disputes Resolution Authority.

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