Dunbar back in fold
Leinster Club SHC semi-final preview
Wexford champions Naomh Eanna will be boosted by the return of star attacker Cathal Dunbar for their AIB Leinster Club Senior hurling semi-final clash with Ballyhale Shamrocks from Kilkenny in Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday (1.30 p.m.).
Dunbar missed the quarter-final victory over Camross because of an unusual case which went to the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA), Croke Park's independent arbitration service.
It ended up as a caution to referees to be specific when it comes to the infraction of 'deliberately pulling on or taking hold of a faceguard or any part of an opponent's helmet', and a warning to county committees to seek clarification if the referee's report doesn't specify the necessary intention.
Dunbar was shown a red card in the county semi-final against Oylegate-Glenbrien and was suspended for one match.
He challenged the decision at Leinster Council but it was upheld and he then took his case to the DRA.
The player's argument was essentially that the referee hadn't specified that the action was deliberate, despite it not being a red card infraction otherwise.
It was held by the tribunal, however, that deliberate is specifically mentioned in the rule, and there's no doubt that 'intention' is a necessary element of the offence.
It was established that Wexford County Board hadn't clarified with the match referee that his decision had been based on an intentional action.
With the DRA meeting running late on the Saturday night, there was no time to seek that clarification on the eve of the county final.
As a result, Dunbar was not suspended for that match, but, pending contact with the referee, the matter was to be re-heard.
When the clarification was obtained, it confirmed the intent and the appropriate suspension was imposed, with Dunbar having to serve his one-match ban for the Camross tie, as per rule 6.25(a) of the Official Guide: 'The county, provincial and All-Ireland stages of the respective club senior, intermediate and junior football and hurling championship constitute the one competition'.
While Dunbar will be back for Sunday's game, Naomh Eanna will have to line out once again without regular corner-backs Peter Travers and Eoin Molloy, both suspended following incidents in the club's Leinster Junior football championship defeat to Tullogher-Rosbercon.
'Both Pedro and Eoin received three-month bans,' team manager Louis Cullen said.
'They missed the Camross game and will also be out of contention for Sunday. They are huge losses but we'll just have to get on with it.'
Naomh Eanna were happy with the displays of Tom Stafford, Lee Kinsella and William Cullen, who stepped up to the mark in the victory over Camross, while they also have the additional boost of the return of Dunbar to the attack.
'We are coming up against some of the best forwards in the game in the likes of T.J. Reid, Richie Reid and Colin Fennelly, but we were happy with the defensive display against Camross,' Cullen added.
The Kilkenny champions are managed by the great Henry Shefflin who successfully steered them to the county title in his first year in charge.
The club allowed four of their players - T.J. Reid, Joey Holden, Richie Reid and Colin Fennelly - to travel with the Kilkenny squad to Australia for last weekend's game with Galway, which they lost on a free-taking shoot-out, but they did not participate in the game.
The organisers agreed to bring the Ballyhale players over a few days ahead of the official party and fly them home earlier.
This will be another huge test for Naomh Eanna but they will take inspiration from their displays against both St. Martin's and Camross.
They will be relieved to have Dunbar back to supplement the in-form Conor McDonald, and should their defence hold up, they will have a realistic chance of victory.
Whatever Naomh Eanna are facing, one can expect a stubborn and skilful resistance as they attempt to bring the downfall of the experienced Kilkenny outfit.
A big weekend for Wexford clubs will begin with two AIB Leinster Club semi-finals on Saturday.
Fethard will face Graigue-Ballycallan from Kilkenny in the Intermediate semi-final in O'Kennedy Park, New Ross, at 1.30 p.m., while Taghmon-Camross will be taking on Na Fianna from Meath in the Junior penultimate round in Trim at the same time.
With a good win apiece under their belts already, both will have high hopes of advancing to their respective finals.