GAA's disciplinary system in 'complete disrepute', says Brolly

August 12, 2017

Referee Fergal Horgan red cards Tadhg De Búrca of Waterford.
©INPHO/James Crombie.

Joe Brolly believes the Tadhg de Burca case has once again highlighted flaws in the GAA's disciplinary system.

The RTÉ pundit and Belfast-based barrister has revealed that he was contatced by the Waterford management for advice during the saga which ended in the early hours of yesterday morning when the DRA decided to uphold de Burca's one-match suspension, which rules him out of tomorrow's All-Ireland SHC semi-final against Cork.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio today, Brolly claimed the disciplinary system is in 'total disrepute' and puts a lot of it down to the sacrosanct status of the referee's report.

"One of the issues with the GAA rulebook is this idea - which is actually nonsensical - that the referee's report is sacrosanct unless there is compelling evidence to contradict it. And this leads to all sorts of problems," he said.

"There was nothing dangerous about it (de Burca's foul). It wasn't deliberate. It wasn't intentional and premeditated. It was incidental. Clearly it happened because his Wexford opponent stepped into his way. There was a brief grapple. He got past him and that was that.

"I think you'd have to say that his opponent has to shoulder some responsibility for what happened because he made a meal of it with the linesman. Which is disappointing given the traditions of hurling. 

"The most that the linesman can say is that there was contact. He can't say if it was deliberate or not. But the offence is 'deliberate contact' so what's in the referee's report is 'deliberate contact.'

"But what the tribunal has to look at, and what any fair-minded person will look at, is 'was this deliberate?' And of course the answer to that is no."

Brolly added: "It's in total disrepute. I'm in Antrim and every week I'm being consulted with ever more bizarre decisions. A club footballer at St. John's this week has been handed a 48-week ban. It looks very likely to be incidental contact with a referee, just brushing past a referee.

"And in spite of the fact that there are 20 players from both squads saying this is an absolute nonsense, the referee's report is sacrosanct.

"I see it all the time. The system is in complete disrepute. Because it is just not fit for purpose. And the only part of it that normally works is the DRA because you've got a lot a really classy lawyers, clever people. I just don't know what happened in the De Burca case."


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