Ulster Council reduce Rasharkin sanctions

The Rasharkin's club premises
The Rasharkin ground will remain closed for adult matches in 2012

Rasharkin will be able to play in adult league and championship competitions in Antrim in 2012 after the Ulster Council reduced sanctions handed to the club following violence at an U21 game.

The Antrim county board had banned the club from all competitions above minor grade in 2012 following an attack on a referee at an under-21 game.

Rasharkin's home ground will remain closed for senior matches next year.

However, adult teams will be able to play in the Antrim competitions.

The St Mary's outfit's adult teams will have to play all their games at away venues but the Ulster Council's decision is a significant concession to the Rasharkin club.

The Ulster Council judgement states that any further transgressions over the next two years could see the original bans being re-imposed while the Antrim county board will also have the option of appealing against the provincial body's ruling.

Referee Ray Matthews
Ray Matthews was attacked at the end of an Antrim Under-21 club match

Rasharkin's appeal to the Ulster Council only concerned the sanctions handed to the club - and not the hefty individual bans imposed on a number of club personnel.

The Antrim board expelled one player, two club members and a member of the Rasharkin coaching staff after an attack on referee Ray Matthews in the game in late October.

Matthews was taken to hospital after being assaulted at the end of the Antrim Under-21 championship semi-final game against Belfast club Lamh Dhearg.

Rasharkin remain banned from participating in the Under-21 championship.

Ten people, all Rasharkin personnel, were handed down various punishments as a result.

The sanctions ranged from four-week suspensions to recommended expulsions.

Six St Mary's players were punished; two received four-week suspensions, one an eight-week suspension, one a 72-week suspension, one a 96-week suspension and the other was recommended for expulsion from the GAA.

A member of the coaching staff was also expelled as were two other members of the club.

Another club member has been suspended for 96 weeks and a fan barred from entering GAA property for the same length of time.

It is understood that a linesman was also injured during the incident.