By Kieran Murphy
The Carlow senior football management pair of Turlough O’Brien and Steven Poacher, along with player Brendan Murphy, look set to get involved in a protracted battle within the corridors of Croke Park’s disciplinary process in the coming days and weeks.
After the Barrowsiders’ penultimate game in the league against Down the GAA’s Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) handed down an initial suspension of 16 weeks to O’Brien with Murphy and Poacher each facing 12-week suspensions. It is understood the wording of the suspensions means all three are precluded from being involved in all GAA matters so this also prevents Murphy from playing football with his club.
With one game to go against Laois the trio found a loophole in GAA law which allowed them to take part in the final game at O’Moore Park before their appeal was heard.
Last week’s Central Hearings Committee upheld charges of threatening conduct towards referee James Bermingham and while two of the suspensions stood, Turlough O’Brien’s original suspension was increased to 20 weeks.
O’Brien and senior officers of the county board are remaining tight-lipped as the appeal goes to the next stage of the process at the Central Appeals Committee (CAC).
It is understood the Carlow trio believe they have a strong case which could see their suspensions reduced.
If the CAC ruling goes against them, the Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA) would offer one final route of appeal.
If O’Brien and Poacher eventually lose their cases, it is understood an interim management team will be appointed ahead of Carlow’s Leinster championship opener against the winners of Meath and Offaly on 25 May.
As it stands, O’Brien’s involvement would be precluded unless Carlow reach the All-Ireland semi-final stage, while Poacher and Murphy would be ruled out until 8 June – the night before the Leinster semi-finals.