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Antrim forward hit with 48-week ban for 'deliberately giving false evidence'

Matthew Fitzpatrick is expected to appeal the ruling.

Antrim forward Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Antrim forward Matthew Fitzpatrick.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

KEY ANTRIM FORWARD Matthew Fitzpatrick has been handed a 48-week suspension for “deliberately giving false evidence” ahead of his county’s championship opener against Donegal in Ballybofey this weekend.

Fitzpatrick was initially given a one-week ban for an alleged striking incident during Antrim’s Division 3 league defeat to Armagh on 25 March, but he successfully appealed the decision. However, after another hearing in Croke Park last night he has been suspended for 48 weeks by the GAA’s Central Hearings Committee (CHC).

The game in question was a feisty affair with three red cards shown by Fermanagh referee Niall Cullen — two for Antrim (Conor Murray and Stephen Beatty) and one for the Orchard men (Stephen Sheridan).

Kieran McGeeney was also given a 12-week ban for an incident involving linesman Joe McQuillan during the same game.

After the match a still image of an alleged striking incident was sent to the Antrim County Board for them to identify the Saffron player involved, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

Fitzpatrick, a Sigerson Cup winner with St Mary’s earlier this year, was then suspended for one game after being named by Antrim officials. But the forward had that ruling overturned on appeal nearly two weeks ago as the image from Croke Park was judged to be unclear.

However, after the Antrim County Board reportedly identified him for a second time Fitzpatrick was requested to appear at a CHC disciplinary hearing in Croke Park last night, where a 48-week suspension was handed down.

Antrim joint-manager Frank Fitzsimons and selector Pat Hughes were also warned over their conduct at the hearing.

“On the 15th of May the Central Hearings Committee decided that at a hearing on the 4 May that Matthew Fitrzpatrick gave deliberately false evidence and deliberately misled the hearing, a breach of rule 7.3,” the CHC said in a statement.

“The CHC imposed a suspension of 48 weeks.

“Antrim manager Frank Fitzsimons and selector Pat Hughes were warned as to their future conduct arising out of evidence they gave at the same hearing.

“All parties have the option of appealing against the decisions of the Central Hearings Committee to the Central Appeals Committee.”

Antrim are expected to appeal Fitzpatrick’s suspension.

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Alan Waldron

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