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Top Cat Ed cleared by the CHC to face Tribe; APPEAL SUCCESS Allianz ili NHL GALWAY v KILKENNY.

Byline: BY PAT NOLAN

EDDIE BRENNAN is free to play in tomorrow's Allianz National Hurling League tie with Galway after the CHC quashed the Kilkenny ace's four-week ban.

Brennan was sent-off along with Waterford's Declan Prendergast during last weekend's defeat to the Deise, but brought his case to Croke Park on Thursday night and was cleared "based on video evidence and a recommendation from the Central Competitions Control Committee", according to a GAAstatement yesterday.

The six-time All-Ireland medallist had been charged on the grounds of attempting to strike an opponent.

Prendergast has already indicated that he will not be pursuing the twomonth ban handed down to him and the matter now appears to be closed as Brennan prepares for tomorrow's trip to Pearse Stadium. Kilkenny selector Martin Fogarty said yesterday: "It's a relief, common sense prevailed.

From our point of view it was lucky enough video evidence was there.

"If there wasn't we probably would have come out on the wrong side of it but in all fairness to the committee they did act fairly quickly and didn't leave the player out in no man's land.

"It would be a huge loss for us if we had to go without Eddie this weekend and it would be a personal blow to himself if he was to miss out on a match or two.

"I suppose that he missed out on part of the game last week was tough enough on the chap."

Brennan wasn't the only Kilkenny player to receive his marching orders last week as Tommy Walsh and Jackie Tyrrell were dismissed, though on yellow card offences following a first half scuffle.

However, Fogarty is supportive of the initiative which he feels is necessary to weed out the uglier side of the game.

"The word from Croke Park is that they're trying to punish people that are cynical in their fouling. With accidental fouling, they're telling the referees not to punish the player.

"If you take, for example, the hurl around the neck, nobody's safe if a guy swings a hurl around an opponent's neck. Of course he should be punished.

"On the other hand it can happen in matches that you will see the hurl around a fella's neck and there's no malice involved. In that scenario the referees are being told not to yellow card people for it.

I can't see anyone having a problem with that . "

Meanwhile, ahead of tomorrow's rearranged clash with Galway, Fogarty feels that a defeat for either side could be fatal for their chances of reaching the final.

Both teams have one win from two games, though only the top two in the section of eight will contest the final next month.

"From the outset I would have said the League had great potential to be very interesting and on any given day any team can beat any team.

"It would appear that with the likes of ourselves and Galway, whichever team loses would be struggling to reach the latter end of the League.

We'll be relying on other results."

It's already the second meeting of the year between the two counties following Kilkenny's win in the Walsh Cup final and there is also the potential for a historic meeting in Leinster Championship this summer.

Fogarty added: "We're going to become pretty neighbourly alright.

There's every chance that we'll meet them in Leinster later on also."

MATCH VERDICT

KILKENNY'S form in the National League so far has hardly been spectacular, but it will count for very little come the summer.

They laboured through last year's campaign as well, failing to reach the final but it proved no impediment to their domination later on.

In fact last week's defeat to Waterford is probably no great harm given the air of invincibility that has been building up around them.

But they'll still win far more often than they lose and should be able to get over a Galway side still minus their Portumna players tomorrow.

VERDICT: Kilkenny

CAPTION(S):

OFF THE HOOK Brennan had been banned for four weeks
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Mar 7, 2009
Words:675
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