Newcastle Jets' Roy O'Donovan given 10-match ban for kung-fu kick
Roy O'Donovan has been handed the second-biggest A-League ban of all time, the Newcastle striker copping 10 matches for his Grand Final kung-fu kick on Melbourne Victory's Lawrence Thomas.
Football Federation Australia's disciplinary and ethics committee took a hard-line stance following three days of deliberation since Tuesday night's marathon hearing.
The Jets immediately said they would appeal, privately shocked O'Donovan has been handed two matches more than Kevin Muscat received in 2011 for his infamously brutal tackle on Melbourne Heart youngster Adrian Zahra.
It eclipses the eight games O'Donovan himself served two years ago while at Central Coast for headbutting Wellington's Manny Muscat.
Only Danny Vukovic has received a bigger suspension, the former Mariners custodian copping a nine-month ban for striking a referee in 2008.
It means the Jets will be without their main marksman for a chunk of next season, although he can serve some of his sentence in the FFA Cup from August.
The Irishman was shown a straight red card and charged with serious foul play after his studs caught goalkeeper Thomas flush in the jaw in the 93rd minute of their 1-0 loss to Victory.
During Tuesday's three-hour hearing O'Donovan's representation conceded his head-high lunge was "reckless" but argued he'd made a genuine play for the ball as part of a desperate attempt to equalise in the final seconds.
But the disciplinary committee wasn't buying it, contending the "Hail Mary attempt" was always likely to endanger Thomas as he rushed out for the ball.
O'Donovan also pleaded his case at length via video link from his native Ireland, claiming his vision was blurred after copping a stray elbow from Besart Berisha moments earlier and contending he didn't realise he'd made contact with Thomas' head until he approached him to apologise after the match.
The committee took into account O'Donovan's remorse and submission he "never set out to hurt anybody in my career."
But it also considered his past rap sheet featuring a two-match ban late this season for striking Sydney FC's Jordy Buijs in the face.
His case wasn't helped by a tense moment between committee chairman John Marshall SC and Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna.
McKinna, a former striker, spoke in O'Donovan's defence to argue it almost impossible to pull out of a challenge when already committed.
Marshall pushed McKinna to clarify if he believed a striker should not attempt to pull out of a challenge even if contact with another player becomes inevitable.
On receiving an affirmative answer he bristled: "I think football has moved on Mr McKinna."
A-LEAGUE'S BIGGEST BANS:
Danny Vukovic: nine months and three months suspended, striking a referee
Roy O'Donovan: 10 games, kicking
Tiago Calvano: eight games and four suspended, holding a referee
Kevin Muscat: eight games, serious foul play
Roy O'Donovan: eight games, headbutting
Ney Fabiano: six games, spitting