Antrim's Matthew Fitzpatrick in last-ditch plea over Donegal game availability

Matthew Fitzpatrick (right) in action against Limerick in last year's All-Ireland qualifiers
Matthew Fitzpatrick (right) wants to be cleared to play for Antrim against Donegal on Sunday

Antrim's Matthew Fitzpatrick made a last-ditch attempt on Monday night to be cleared to play in Sunday's Ulster SFC game against Donegal.

Fitzpatrick initially successfully appealed against the suspension imposed following an alleged incident in the League game against Armagh.

The ban was re-imposed and successfully appealed in quick succession before Croke Park ordered a further hearing.

Fitzpatrick was having that hearing in Dublin on Monday night.

Antrim joint-manager Gearoid Adams told BBC Sport Northern Ireland that his fellow joint-manager Frank Fitzsimons was accompanying St John's player Fitzpatrick at the latest Croke Park hearing.

"Quite frankly I am, given how long that this has dragged on," said Adams.

"I know the young man. He's a fellow club-man of my own. This is the third time he has been before a disciplinary committee over this issue.

"I first met Matthew at the age of 16 when I was manager of St John's and he told me that he about to play for Glentoran but instead he came back to me when he could easily have stuck with soccer.

Antrim joint-manager Gearoid Adams
Antrim joint-manager Geraroid Adams strongly defended Fitzpatrick on Monday night

"This may lead to one of our most talented players saying: 'You know what. I'm either away to America or I'm not going to play football at all'.

"He's a brilliant players but he's a free spirit. If he was a dirty player, I wouldn't be standing here defending him."

Three weeks ago, Fitzpatrick's Saffron team-mates released a strongly worded statement which alleged that the Antrim county board had identified the player to Croke Park.

According to his team-mates, the county's management and two county officials were initially unable to identify the player from footage after being asked to do so by the GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee.

The players alleged that the county board, however, then did identify Fitzpatrick which led to his suspension.

The Saffrons will already be without Conor Murray after he was handed a two-match ban following his red card in the game against Armagh.

Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney was then banned for 12 weeks for an allegation verbal altercation with a linesman in the Athletic Grounds game.

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