Antrim footballers blame county's GAA board for Matthew Fitzpatrick ban

Matthew Fitzpatrick (right) in action against Limerick in last year's All-Ireland qualifiers
Matthew Fitzpatrick (right) is set to miss Antrim's Ulster SFC against Donegal on 21 May

The Antrim football squad has released a statement criticising the Saffron county's GAA board following a ban imposed by Croke Park on forward Matthew Fitzpatrick.

As it stands, Fitzpatrick will miss Antrim's Ulster SFC game against Donegal on 21 May.

That's following a retrospective ban imposed following an alleged incident in the league game against Armagh.

The Antrim players say the county board identified Fitzpatrick to Croke Park.

A statement signed by 34 squad members was released to the county's clubs.

According to the statement, 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 allege 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.

In a typically protracted GAA disciplinary process, Fitzpatrick was handed a ban which he initially successfully appealed against only for the suspension to be later re-imposed, which is where it sits at the moment.

"We find it unacceptable that not only was this players suspended as a result of information provided by our own county board but that there was no county representative available to accompany him for his appeal," said the statement.

"We do not believe that this course of action would occur in any other country."

The statement adds that the squad expects full support from the county board for a further appeal which Fitzpatrick is set to make.