A FOOTBALLER who broke an opponent's leg with a 'Kung Fu' style tackle during a junior soccer match two years ago has been spared jail.
Andrew Duffy (30), of Eglantine Place, Belfast, was convicted in November of assault causing harm to Mark Bannon (24), of Moneymore, Drogheda, at Kilmessan, Co Meath, on October 8, 2011.
Duffy was playing in a midfield position for Kilmessan, and Mr Bannon was playing right-back for Drogheda side Boyne Valley in a Meath and District League reserve match when Mr Bannon's leg was broken following a tackle by Duffy.
Mr Bannon told the trial at Trim Circuit Court he had cleared the ball when he saw Duffy coming towards him to make a tackle and he had a bad feeling about it: "He was in the air with his knees to his chest. He extended his legs out in a downward motion and connected with my left leg."
He said he heard the bone break and as he lay on the ground screaming, Duffy stood over him smiling.
A number of witnesses said the tackle was two-footed, extremely late, and very high.
Match referee Michael Bryan said he had never seen anything like it in his 20 years as a referee. He said Duffy ran towards Mr Bannon and jumped in the air before the tackle, which he described as a two-footed "Kung Fu challenge".
The referee said that Duffy was gesturing to the spectators after he was shown the red card.
Mr Bryan added that Duffy had been given a 16-week playing ban, which was the longest in the history of the league.
Duffy said he had not intended to injure his opponent and that it was "simply a miscalculation".
The case was adjourned until yesterday for sentence.
In a victim impact statement read to the hearing, Mr Bannon said the injury had cost him €6,000 to date. He had a metal rod in his leg, and could no longer walk long distances.
The court heard that Duffy had paid a substantial sum of unconditional compensation to the injured player.
Judge Michael O' Shea noted the payment to Mr Bannon but remarked the tackle had neither been mistimed nor misjudged.
Judge O Shea imposed a sentence of three years which he suspended, on Duffy entering a €200 bond to keep the peace for three years.