‘Maybe there’s an objective to sanitise Gaelic football’: Jim Gavin reacts to ‘bizarre’ decision

Jim Gavin has labelled as “bizarre� the GAA’s Central Hearings Committee’s decision to uphold Michael Fitzsimons’ one-match suspension arising from his red card against Mayo, writes John Fogarty.

Fitzsimons was sent to the line by referee Paddy Neilan for a mistimed foul on Aidan O’Shea in the second half of last month’s win in Castlebar.

Gavin, who did not rule out taking Fitzsimons’ case to the Central Hearings Committee even though he missed yesterday’s game against Kerry, suggested the decision might be part of an agenda to sanitise Gaelic football.

Asked for his reaction to the judgement, he replied: “Surprised is probably an understatement. We were here on Thursday night at the Central Hearings Committee meeting and we had to demonstrate conclusive evidence that his foul wasn’t a Category III offence — dangerous play — and we’d footage from eir Sport, great footage, to show conclusively it wasn’t dangerous play.

“It was deemed that we didn’t conclusively demonstrate that, which for those of us who played the game and coach the game and understand that if a player is leaning in to take a shot and all the indicators are that he is going to shoot then you commit yourself to the block.�

He continued: “Aidan gets up and plays on and it’s deemed that there was a Category III offence, which I believe is bizarre. Maybe there’s an objective to sanitise the game of Gaelic football and I look at the hurling fraternity and they’ve kept the physicality in their game and it’s a great sport because of it so we just need to be mindful of that.�

Éamonn Fitzmaurice likened next Saturday’s clash with Kildare to a Championship game as they look to avoid relegation.

“We have to focus on next weekend and get a result at home and make sure we are in Divison 1 next year because next year’s squad will be a very young one and you want them to be exposed to days like this, against opposition like Dublin.�

Gavin said Diarmuid Connolly and Paul Flynn were two players “resting up for the moment� while James McCarthy had picked up a knock during the week.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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