Footballer fined for 'cowardly' assault
Cork star punched then kicked on ground
A YOUNG man was convicted yesterday of a "cowardly" assault on inter-county football star James Masters during a fractious GAA club match.
Valley Rovers player Noel O'Donovan (22) had denied the assault, which occurred during a Cork football championship match in August 2010.
Mr Masters (29), a former star full-forward with Cork in, was first punched in the assault and then kicked in the face as he lay injured on the pitch.
Mr Masters -- a serving garda -- claimed he was also called "a pig" during a melee and, after being knocked to the ground, was then kicked in the jaw.
He also claimed that the defendant made a disparaging handcuffs gesture to him as he lay hurt.
O'Donovan, from Upton, Crossbarry, Co Cork, denied a charge of assault causing harm before Cork District Court.
The incident happened during a heated Nemo Rangers-Valley Rovers match at Ballygarvan on August 8, 2010.
Giving evidence, Mr Masters said it was a routine championship match until the final whistle approached. A row erupted between a group of players but the Cork star -- not wanting to get involved -- started to walk back to his full-forward position.
"I know he (O'Donovan) wasn't in my line of vision until I turned and got hit. I fell to the ground in a clump. I fell on the floor and was trying to get back up on my feet," he said.
"When I got hit I fell and looked and saw the Valley Rovers No 2. I stared up and I got a kick from the same player.
"All I know is that he was calling me a pig and he hit and kicked me and did a handcuffs gesture," he added.
Mr Masters denied that he had taunted O'Donovan, but acknowledged that both players had been involved in a minor incident in the first half.
O'Donovan's legal team claimed that he had been subjected to both sarcasm and condescension during the match.
O'Donovan admitted punching the garda, but vehemently denied kicking him in the face or taunting him while he was on the ground.
Judge Leo Malone was told that O'Donovan has an impeccable playing record and the Ballygarvan incident represented not only his first sending off but his first-ever booking.
One witness, Richard Fitzgerald, who is not a supporter of either club, said that O'Donovan struck the Nemo player and then kicked out at him on the ground.
The judge convicted the defendant and described the assault as a "cowardly" action. He fined O'Donovan -- who is currently unemployed -- a total of €1,000.