ARMAGH SELECTOR PAUL Grimley enjoyed a measure of vindication last night when the GAA’s Central Hearings Committee opted to dismiss allegations he physically threatened a match official during last week’s contentious NFL Division 1 encounter between Laois and Armagh, choosing instead to impose a minimal four-week ban for verbal abuse.
The incident, during which Grimley was restrained by a number of local stewards, took place in the immediate wake of Michael Duffy’s decision to issue Armagh back Ciarán McKeever with a red card.
While the Central Competitions Control Committee viewed Grimley’s intervention as threatening and unprovoked, later publishing a recommendation he be banned for upwards of 16 weeks, the selector claimed his attempt to remonstrate with the referee had been inspired by Duffy’s apparent unwillingness to punish Laois players for indulging in political and sectarian abuse.
That allegation was later reinforced by the Armagh County Board’s decision to lodge an official complaint with the GAA.
Speaking to the Irish News ahead of the last night’s hearing, Grimley said the issue went beyond gamesmanship:
“I know it is used as a tactic to enrage people… but there is a serious side to it. When you do that to a northern team, there could be members of that team who have lost relatives during the conflict up here. You can understand the sensitivities of all that.”
“But that goes over the head of some southern players. They don’t seem to grasp just how sensitive an issue it can be.”
The Laois player accused of provoking McKeever has yet to be named.