A FORMER Dublin footballer has been acquitted of breaking an off-duty garda's jaw during a GAA match.
Brendan McManamon (31) had claimed during the trial that he was reacting to his opponent hitting him in the testicles.
Former Longford player Garda Enda Ledwith spent three days in hospital for his fractured jaw and had three metal plates inserted during surgery, the court heard.
Mr McManamon, of Cypress Downs, Templeogue, had pleaded not guilty to the assault on Garda Enda Ledwith at Na Fianna GAA Club, St Mobhi Road, Glasnevin on March 31, 2012.
Garda Ledwith was playing for the home team, while Mr McManamon was with St Jude's of Templeogue.
The Dublin Circuit Criminal Court trial heard that Garda Ledwith's jaw was broken during the last 10 minutes.
Mr McManamon told his counsel, Breffni Gordon BL, that he was playing left corner forward and that Gda Ledwith was marking him quite closely for the whole game.
"I was trying to play a forward's game and he was trying to play a back's game," he explained.
He was asked to watch some footage of the match being played frame by frame and to explain what was happening.
"The two of us are facing each other. I'm facing the goal and ball," he continued. "This is where he draws his left hand back to strike me."
Mr McManamon said Gda Ledwith then struck him, hitting his testicles.
"As soon as he hit me, I reacted," he said. "I swung my right hand out there in defence, in self-defence as a reaction to being hit." He said he told the referee Gda Ledwith had hit him first.
"I was in a lot of pain at that stage. He (the referee) gave me a red card and I walked off."
He agreed with his barrister that he admitted from the start that he had hit Garda Ledwith and caused his broken jaw.
Gda Ledwith refuted the allegation that he had kicked Mr McManamon in the testicles and said he would have hit him at chest height.
"I wouldn't stoop so low. I've never, ever done that," he told the court.
He said Mr McManamon punched him in the chest, and he pushed him back and told him to "F**k off".
Gda Ledwith said that up to that point it was "handbags more than anything else", adding that Gaelic football was a "physical game" and that these things happened.
But he said Mr McManamon then "seemed to snap" and started throwing punches at him, making contact with his face at least twice.
"His demeanour changed, to become more pumped up or aggressive," said Gda Ledwith.
He said blood started to pour from his mouth and he went down on his hunkers and put his hand up to his mouth and felt that his teeth had caved in.
The team physio gave Gda Ledwith an ice pack, and he told her "My f**king jaw is broken," and got into an ambulance.
Gda Ledwith said the accused put his head into the ambulance and apologised, saying something like: "Look, I'm sorry for what happened, these things happen on the pitch and stay on the pitch."
Gda Ledwith spent three days in St James's Hospital and later underwent surgery to get three plates in his jaw and one tooth extracted to facilitate screws.
Mr McManamon said he had never punched anyone during a GAA match or done anything like that before.
"I'd never been struck in the testicles by a player before," he added.
"GAA is a physical game," he said, indicating that he had been shouldered. "But when it's a strike to an area so sensitive, that's a different story."