A former Dublin footballer accused of breaking another player's jaw on the pitch told gardai he struck out in a "reflex action" after he had been hit in the testicles, a court has heard.
Brendan McManamon (30) has denied assault causing harm to Garda Enda Ledwith during a league match at Na Fianna GAA Club, St Mobhi Road, Glasnevin, on March 31, 2012.
Mr McManamon of Cypress Downs, Templeogue, had been playing for St Judes while former Longford player Gda Ledwith (37) was with Na Fianna when the incident occurred during the final 10 minutes of the tie.
Defence counsel Breffni Gordon told the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Mr McManamon accepts that he punched Gda Ledwith once.
He said Mr McManamon told gardai in a statement that he struck out "in defence" but that he couldn't say exactly where he had hit Mr Ledwith.
Mr Gordon then read an extract from his client's garda statement before the court.
"As I spun around to try and get by him, Enda striked me between my legs on to my testicles. As this happened I striked out, attempting to catch him on the side of the face," the statement read.
McManamon told gardai that it was "done on reflex" and that he couldn't say for definite if his fist had been closed or not.
Under cross-examination from the defence, Gda Ledwith insisted that the accused punched him twice in the face and said he would never forget the blows as he had never been hit with such power before.
"They were the hardest punches I've ever received, on the football field or anywhere else," he said.
"I'm only 12 or 11-and-a-half stone. He's 14 stone. I was marking him for nearly an hour and he's one of the strongest fellas I've ever met in 20 years playing football.
"He's as strong as they get," said Gda Ledwith.
Gda Ledwith said the incident began when their paths crossed and they collided.
He said he pushed Mr McManamon very hard in the chest and the accused started throwing punches at him.
He said in the court that the second punch "did all the damage" and fractured his jaw.
Mr Gordon told Gda Ledwith that he was at an advantage over his client as he made his statement a few days after the incident, while Mr McManamon had to wait four months before making his.
Among the witnesses to be called during the trial are the former Dublin County Manager Paul "Pillar" Caffrey, and former member of Dublin County Board, John McNichols.
The case continues today.