Supporters in shock as brawls mar key weekend GAA clashes
GAA supporters, some with children, were shocked and horrified yesterday after a Wicklow Senior Football Championship quarter-final descended into a brutal fracas.
Players from both Rathnew and Blessington flailed into each other with fists and, according to some witnesses, with boots as well.
The ugly scenes erupted with just 12 minutes left on referee Kieran Kenny's watch. Most of the players got sucked into the free-for-all. The brawl allegedly started after an incident, involving a Blessington player, was exalted when the Rathnew goalie came off his line to get involved. The row lasted eight minutes.
Eventually, when the referee appeared to have restored order, he sent off a player from each team before restarting the match.
But as a Rathnew player, who had been sent off, was heading towards the sideline, hostilities broke out once again with several skirmishes taking place between rival players.
One Rathnew substitute removed his jersey as he came off the bench to get involved in support of his brother who had been red carded.
The game restarted for seven minutes. However, a Blessington player sustained a neck injury in a tackle and the game was halted for an ambulance to arrive.
After the injured player was taken to hospital by ambulance Blessington refused to return to the field and Mr Kenny called time on the game.
In another Wicklow football quarter-final on Saturday, Annacurra had a player sent off, following a fight just before the final whistle. Annacurra were defeated by Baltinglass.