Ryan Burns has no summer football to look forward after the GAA upheld their decision to hand down a 12 week ban to the Hunterstown Rovers forward in light of his red card against Longford as Louth crashed out of the All-Ireland qualifiers last week.
Croke Park’s Central Competitions Control Committee heard Burns appeal against the lengthy suspension on Monday but that decision has been upheld – and now the 21-year-old will not return to action until mid-September.
In the meantime, key forward Burns will miss the Intermediate Championship group stage and quarter finals too – and possibly the last four round, should Rovers get there. He will also miss the remainder of a stellar league campaign – in which Rovers currently sit just one point off the summit in Division 2 – and the Paddy Sheelan Cup final.
The 12-week suspension that has been meted out prevents Burns from playing club football, despite the incident in question occurring on Louth duty as the Wee County lost out to Longford at the Gaelic Grounds 10 days ago.
His loss from Rovers’ Championship will be an especially keen one – as Burns hit 1-22 to top score for the Hunterstown side as they reached last year’s semi-final, losing to eventual winners St Josephs. Rovers travel to Dundalk on Tuesday to face the Joes in the league.
The ban comes after a sending off in Drogheda that resulted from Burns kicking a ball towards an umpire at one end of the ground – as the clock ticked towards full time. The ball struck the umpire and referee Noel Mooney, who has now been named as referee for Meath’s clash with Sligo at the weekend, showed Burns red. He was the third Louth man to be sent from the field.
After the match, now ex-Louth manager Colin Kelly expressed his fear that the incident could prove costly for Burns, suggesting it could be seen in a similar light to the incident that saw Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly also banned for 12 weeks this month. His fears have been realised.
The CCCC decision to ban and uphold Burns’ suspension stems from the GAA’s rule 5.32, in which ‘minor physical interference’ with a referee carries a minimum 12-week ban.
Next month will see the start of the 2017 Intermediate Championships where Jim Mathews’ side will face off against St Fechins and St Mochtas for a place in the knockout stages. Their Paddy Sheelan Shield final against O’Raghallaighs is pencilled in for the end of July. Burns now misses all of this games.
With six of 11 rounds already completed, this week’s sees two more rounds in the space of four days as the busy summer schedule swings into gear.
So far this season, Burns has only turned out in Rovers’ colours twice – against O’Raghallaighs and O’Connell’s, both in the league. He scored 1-04 in both games, underlying his importance to the cause – but Rovers have picked up three wins and one draw in their other four outings, suggesting Jim Mathews’ charges may feel confident that can flourish without the player many regard as the key man.