by Paddy Hickey
Veteran Clare defender Gordon Kelly is making the marathon journey from Miltown-Malbay to Dublin today in a bid to have his controversial three month ban overturned by the GAA authorities.
Kelly's fate will be decided tonight at Croke Park when the association's Appeals Committee, headed by Meath's Brian Rennick, adjudicates on an appeal bythe Banner County ace against the lengthy suspension imposed for allegedly hitting a linesmen with a water bottle at the end of Clare's drawn NFL clashwith Tipperary on February 11, at Cusack Park.
Already, Kelly, a mainstay of the Clare football team since 2006, has missed the fourth round win over Down last Sunday week, and if his appeal is not successful he will also be ruled out of the final three League fixtures against Roscommon this coming Sunday, and against Cork and Louth on March 17 and March 25, respectively.
A fruitless trip to Dublin would mean that Kelly, who will be accompanied by arepresentative from the Clare County Board, would not be re-eligible to resume inter-county action until shortly before Clare's Munster Championship opener against Limerick on May 19, at the Gaelic Grounds.
Understandably, Clare football boss Colm Collins was extremely annoyed at the scale of the punishment handed out to his experienced defender, describing it as "absolute insanity."
Collins added: "All Gordon did was clean out the water bottle before he drank it, like every player in the country does. The umpire says he hit him, which Gordon denies, and he got three months for it.
"Even if he deliberately squirted water at anofficial - which he adamantly claims he didn't - three months is a bit much."