A-League: Jets striker Roy O'Donovan cops 10-match ban for high-foot challenge in grand final

BANNED: Jets striker Roy O'Donovan has been suspended for 10-matches for his challenge on Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
BANNED: Jets striker Roy O'Donovan has been suspended for 10-matches for his challenge on Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

NEWCASTLE Jets striker Roy O’Donovan will miss a third of the 2018-19 A-League campaign after the Irishman received a 10-match suspension for his challenge on Melbourne Victory goal keeper Lawrence Thomas in the grand final.

Football Federation Australia’s independent Disciplinary and Ethics Committee issued the ban on Friday, four days after the initial hearing.

In a statement, the Jets indicated they would appeal against the severity of the ban.

“The Newcastle Jets are extremely disappointed with the outcome of this hearing and will immediately lodge an appeal on O’Donovan’s behalf,” the statement said.

O’Donovan gave  evidence at the tribunal via a video hook-up from Ireland, and argued that his vision was “blurred” after copping a stray elbow from Besart Berisha moments earlier, and was soon rendered "completely blind" when the ball passed in front of the stadium floodlights.

O’Donovan’s counsel Simon Philips conceded his head-high lunge into Thomas' face was "careless" and "reckless" but argued he'd made a genuine play for the ball in a desperate attempt to equalise in the game's final seconds.

Phillips likened O'Donovan's challenge to that of Sadio Mane on Manchester City gloveman Ederson last September, for which the Liverpool attacker received a three-match suspension.

The incident, which ocurred in the 93rd minute of the Jets’ 1-0 loss to Victory, was referred to the DEC after the match review panel classed the incident as "serious foul play" when challenging for the ball.

At the completion of the hearing on Tuesday night, DEC chairman John Marshall SC said they needed more time to deliberate a sanction.

"This is a potentially lengthy sentence and we just need to be clear on our reasoning," he said

O’Donovan will miss the Jets’ round-of-32 FFA Cup match and as many as nine rounds of the A-League proper.

The suspension is the 32-year-old’s fourth in three seasons.