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Friday 18 August 2017

From experience it can be better to accept a ban before vultures pounce

Diarmuid Connolly of Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Diarmuid Connolly of Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

The Diarmuid Connolly saga is nearly at an end after his appeal to the CHC failed, and his decision not to appeal his case to the CAC. The punishment of 12 weeks for the crime is tough for Connolly and there is no doubt he is going to be a huge loss to Dublin this summer.

I can speak from experience when it comes to suspensions and appeals etc. I skated on thin ice many times in my own career. 'The Battle of Omagh' in 2006, the dust-up in Donnycarney against Meath in 2008 are two of many incidents where I was hauled over the fires.

Spats

I was involved in numerous spats in games where I was lucky to escape suspensions. In 2006 we appealed our suspensions following 'The Battle of Omagh' and we duly got off. We got off on a technicality rather than on the basis that we were innocent!

The court of public opinion certainly did not favour us following our escape. Whilst we might have been smug at the time, we knew it had left a sour taste in the corridors of Croke Park.

Following 'The Battle of Omagh' and with some of my other incidents hanging over me, I had developed a reputation that was difficult to shake. I reached a stage where referees were looking out for me - waiting for me to put a foot wrong so they could pounce.

I was constantly under the spotlight and could feel the heat. Every tackle or foul I made in a match was grossly exaggerated with roars from the crowd.

In 2008 when I received a two-month suspension after the dust-up with Meath in Donnycarney, I can recall going to Pillar Caffrey the following Monday night.

I told him whatever happened that I was going to accept my suspension and did not want any appeals.

I felt that if I sucked it up, accepted I was wrong that it would serve me better in the long run. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I actually garnished more respect for accepting my punishment and it allowed me to move on as a player. The court of public opinion felt justice had been served.

With the profile Connolly carries in the game, it may just serve him well for sitting this one out. A successful appeal at CAC level or the DRA would still have left him in the spotlight.

The vultures would still be waiting to pounce!

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