Joe Brolly believes Diarmiud Connolly's reputation hurt him as he was slapped with a 12-week ban for putting his hand on linesman Ciaran Branagan.

The Dublin All Star was given the suspension after he pushed Branagan in the shoulder following a flash-point along the touchline of the Dubs’ Leinster quarter-final win over Carlow.

Speaking on The Sunday Game, Brolly insists that Connolly should have been given more protection at the time from the match officials, who took no action against him at the time.

And he says that the St Vincent’s man patchy disciplinary record contributed to the three-month sanction.

"It was clear that he put his hand on him, but once you slow-mo it down, start talking about his past..." said Brolly.

"Let me put it to you this way – if that was Colm Cooper, quite rightly, and it would have been my immediate reaction, we would have been asking ‘are they not going to protect him?’

"There were three players pushing him, elbowing, shunting at the sideline. He has his hands up to show he’s not doing anything.

"Players like Colm Cooper deserve protection. Because it’s Diarmuid Connolly, and I feel Pat bought into this a little bit, it’s open season on Diarmuid. I think it was over the top – he’s entitled to his opinion and I strongly disagreed with it."

Brolly was speaking about fellow Sunday Game pundit Pat Spillane, with the Kerry man critical of Connolly’s actions on RTÉ Television at the time of the incident.

Brolly thinks that media scrutiny did have a part to play in the Dubs’ lengthy ban.

He said: "It was like watching counsel for the prosecution and by the time I was finished watching it was thinking to myself ‘the CCCC are going to act’.

"When you look at the referee, who was right on it, didn’t react, and the linesman, a very experienced referee Ciaran Branagan, didn’t react at all to it. He was aware he had been touched.

"It was in the context of a fraught incident on the sideline – it was momentary and very trivial and the Dubs would have expected that’s the end of it, but once it had been jumped on it I thought ‘they’re going to have to go for him’."

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