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Donegal boss Declan Bonner says GAA’s appeals process is a 'farce'

Their stricken rivals Armagh were able to feature three players who were originally facing one-match suspensions

Donegal manager Declan Bonner. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Frank Roche

DECLAN BONNER has claimed the GAA’s appeals process is a “farce” after watching his Donegal charges launch their latest Ulster SFC campaign with an emphatic seven-point victory over Armagh.

Their stricken rivals were able to feature three players who were originally facing one-match suspensions – Rian O’Neill started after a successful appearance before the Central Hearings Committee, while Aidan Nugent and Stefan Campbell came off the bench after their bans were quashed by the Central Appeals Committee last week.

All three had been facing punishment following an end-of-league melee that also resulted in one-match suspensions for Donegal defenders Odhrán McFadden-Ferry and Neil McGee, who both accepted their proposed penalties.

The contrasting outcomes were obviously a source of some annoyance in Donegal, and Bonner confirmed that he was “surprised” that the Armagh trio had ultimately escaped punishment.

“To me, in terms of the CAC or the CCC (sic) or whatever it is, a lot of questions to be answered there, to be quite honest, because that whole appeals committee now is an absolute … it’s a farce, to be quite honest,” he claimed.

“Not that we dwelt too much on it, we went and did the job that we had to do.”

Asked to expand on what he meant by farce, Bonner replied: “I’m not going to get involved in it now. I know youse are looking for a bit of controversy but youse are not going to get that. Well, you see it yourself, if you get players off… they have to look at it, that’s for sure. But it’s not for me, I’m not part of it.”

Bonner confirmed that Donegal hadn’t gone down the appeals route because “we normally go by the referee’s report, we were told there was no point really in appealing it. We didn’t want to be in a situation where you were on the go, two or three weeks, will you or won’t you have these players available?

“We made a decision there and then, four weeks ago,” he added. “They (McFadden-Ferry and McGee) know the story and in fairness to them, we told we’d get them ready for a semi-final and that’s exactly what we’d be doing. And those guys have been training as hard as anyone over the last three to four weeks.”

Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney wasn’t available for post-match interview, but their tame 1-16 to 0-12 defeat leaves their manager on the back foot ahead of the qualifiers.

Meanwhile, his Donegal counterpart praised the contribution of skipper Michael Murphy, who top-scored with 0-6 (4f) after an injury-disrupted league.

“He’s a role model, he’s a leader, and he put in a huge, huge shift there, a real selfless performance, covered every blade of grass. He was exceptional,” said Bonner, who added that it was “too early to tell” the extent of Jason McGee’s injury after the influential midfielder was forced off during the third quarter.

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