Donegal are to hold their powder on whether or not to appeal Michael Murphy’s straight red card in Sunday’s Ulster Senior Championship quarter-final win over Cavan in Kingspan Breffni Park.
While both manager Jim McGuinness and his assistant Rory Gallagher were adamant in the immediate aftermath of the game they would appeal, Donegal secretary Aodh Mairtin O’Fearaigh, confirmed yesterday that no final decision on an appeal against the decision will be made until after they see a copy of referee Marty Duffy’s report.
“I have been on to Croke Park already this morning requesting a copy of the referee’s report, and until we see what the referee has reported Michael for, we will not make a final decision on the matter,” insisted the secretary.
“We hope to have the report within 24 hours and once we see it we will then make our decision”, added O’Fearraigh, who did not wish to expand on their reason for holding their fire. Donegal have a window of 72 hours from receipt of the report to make an appeal.
However, it is understood that there are fears that the official may state in his report that he had witnessed a striking action or intent to strike which carries an automatic four week ban.
If this was to be case while TV pictures of the incident clearly show the Donegal captain was guilty of no more than shoulder charging Damien Reilly - who appeared to be the aggressor - it would be difficult to overturn the decision.
Most independent observers including Martin Carney and Pat Spillane on The Sunday Game saw the incident, which happened 17 minutes into the game, as no more than a yellow card offence.
While the county board are delaying their decision it is also understood that the mood at offical level in the county is to appeal the decision and it is just a matter of waiting for the referee’s report before they take their decision.
The secretary did tell the Donegal Democrat/ People’s Press that if the matter is to go to a hearing he expressed the wish that it would be done fairly hastily especially as the Ulster semi-final against Tyrone in Clones is the weekend after next.
“It would be only fair to Michael, the team and management that the matter be dealt with as soon as possible so as they know whether or not Michael is going to be available to face Tyrone.”
Jim McGuinness defended his captain speaking to the press afterwards and insisted that it wasn’t a strike.
“Michael says he went to try and shoulder him. He definitely didn’t raise his hand and strike; he assured us of that at half-time,” said the Donegal boss. “He’s a model player on and off the field and hopefully there won’t be an issue and we’ll have him back for the next day.”
McGuinness lashes Sunday Game
As the Murphy incident, much of the talk after Sunday’s game was centred on Jim McGuinness’s criticism of the RTE’s The Sunday Game where he felt that the panel had disrespected his players in the wake of the win over Antrim.
“I think some people seem to feel Donegal is a county that they can poke fun at, but I don’t like the way my players have been disrespected by sections of the media and others like Liam Bradley,” McGuinness said.
“I don’t have an issue about what people write or say about our style of play and our general performance levels on any particular day and while everybody is entitled to their opinion, players are entitled to be afforded due respect, but the line that shouldn’t be crossed was crossed on a number of occasions in recent months,” said McGuinness.
The manager felt that the man of the match award to Ryan Bradley was not well handled.
“There’s one thing being critical of Jim McGuinness or my style of football but there’s another thing in being disrespectful and we felt that Ryan Bradley was disrespected.”
McGuinness had a swipe at The Sunday Game, who chose Bradley as their man of the match against Antrim, although after a pre-recorded interview with the Buncrana forward, claimed it was the type of game when there wasn’t a deserving man of the match.
“RTE presented him with a trophy and then said there was no man of the match,” McGuinness said of Bradley. “Ryan Bradley has parents and a girlfriend, who were standing watching him accepting a trophy, as proud as punch, and then people later were saying ‘there was no man of the match!’ Last week they had a joke about us as well at the end of the programme. Donegal seems to be this county that everyone can have a good laugh at because we’re not that serious.
“Everyone’s got their job to do, and everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but when it’s disrespectful there’s a line to be drawn and I feel that line’s been crossed on a number of occasions in recent weeks.
“It’s a one-way street, we don’t get our opportunity to give our point of view but as a manager I’ve a duty of care to my players,” said McGuinness.