Tipperary secretary Tim Floyd has revisited the controversial suspension Jason Forde received in the wake of his clash with Davy Fitzgerald during last April's Allianz Hurling League semi-final in his annual report.
Forde was hit with a two-match ban after Wexford manager Fitzgerald entered the field at Nowlan Park to remonstrate with referee Diarmuid Kirwan following Tipperary's second goal and ended up sizing up to the Silvermines player and Niall O'Meara.
Floyd remains convinced that Forde suffered because of the high-profile enjoyed by 'one of the personalities involved' in the incident.
"The player, team manager and county board all agreed we should challenge this charge and we sought a hearing with the Central Hearings Committee (CHC). Indeed the general public were shocked with the proposed suspension and would have been disappointed if we did not challenge it," he wrote in his report to yesterday's Tipperary GAA convention.
"The two-match suspension would rule Jason out of the league final plus the Munster championship versus Cork which was a harsh sentence for a very trivial incident. Both the referee's report and the sideline officials report made no mention of Jason Forde, but the CCCC in their wisdom deemed it an assault.
"Our argument at the hearing was based on the word 'assault' as the video clip only showed Jason pushing the Wexford manager and we also argued that Jason was being victimised due to the publicity around the incident.
"Most games include this type of 'argy bargy', especially when an incoming sub is being greeted by his opponent so if this was being treated as an offence it opens the door to numerous similar incidents in games.
"We convinced the CHC as they concluded that jostling and pushing was not deemed an assault and so they decided that the infraction as alleged was not proven. Unfortunately they decided that the evidence did disclose an infraction less serious, that is to say "to contribute to a melee" for which they were imposing a one match suspension.
"Meanwhile Jason had played the league final and so would miss the Munster championship game v Cork. Once again we decided to challenge the decision of the CHC and we sought and received a hearing from the Central Appeals Committee (CAC).
"At the appeal we argued that a melee was never discussed at the hearing and Jason Forde could not have contributed to a melee if there was no melee. Once you go to a higher appeal body (CAC) you are no longer challenging the original substantive issue, but the actual procedures adopted by the Hearings Committee in reaching their decision.
"We questioned the Central Hearings Committee's right to bring forward a new charge that was not even mentioned at the hearing and argued they were not within their right to conclude that a melee occurred.
"The definition of the word melee also became central to the case. Our dictionaries defined a melee as involving many people or a throng, but the chairman of the CHC in his evidence said they defined it as three or more pushing and shoving and the person who starts a melee is regarded as contributing.
"The Central Appeals Committee upheld the decision of the Central Hearings and we lost the case. We decided against going to the Disputes Resolution Authorities (DRA) as Jason felt it was becoming too much of a distraction before an important championship game and so he served his one match ban on the sidelines against Cork just two weeks later."
Floyd added: "It's very frustrating and disappointing to lose a disciplinary hearing especially when you see similar incidents in every game not being investigated. I still believe Jason Forde was just guilty by association in an incident that received wide scale publicity because of the high profile of one of the personalities involved."