A SOCCER player has been found guilty of assaulting an opposing player during a Sunday morning game nearly two years ago after the victim received a fractured cheekbone.
At Dundalk District Court, Jason O'Boyle (24), Oriel Cove, Clogherhead had pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to a player from Clones Town during a game at Newtown, Monasterboice, on September 18 2011.
But a jury took just under two hours to find O'Boyle, who was playing for Drogheda Crescent, guilty, and he was remanded on continuing bail to January 14 when a date for sentencing will be fixed.
The jury of nine men and three women heard how O'Boyle was wearing the number 2 shirt for Drogheda Crescent during the Meath and District League game that morning. About 20 minutes into the game, the referee awarded the Monaghan team a free. While the kick was being taken, the victim told the jury, there was jostling and pushing near the 18 yard box in preparation for the free.
The victim, who was 28 at the time, said O'Boyle had words with him about the free and just before the shot was played, he felt a blow to the right side of his face and he fell onto the ground.
The victim said he felt his face was collapsing, but he got up and remained on the pitch for a few minutes before he went off. He was taken to hospital in Drogheda by an off-duty garda who was watching another game, and later went to the Mater Hospital where he was treated for a fractured right cheekbone that left him off work for eight weeks.
A second Clones Town player told the court how he saw Drogheda's number 2 having words with the victim ahead of the free kick. Seconds later, he saw O'Boyle punch the victim twice in the face and once more as he was falling to the ground. The referee didn't see what happened. This witness disagreed with defence barrister Jim Kelly that O'Boyle had his hands in the air and accidentally hit the victim as he turned around.
A third player from the same team said it could have been an elbow that hit his team-mate in the face, while a witness from Drogheda Crescent said he saw the victim falling to the ground but not how he got there.
Gardaí interviewed both men in the weeks after the game and O'Boyle told the court he had his hands up to show the referee he wasn't fouling ahead of the free kick being taken. He said he caught the victim in the face by accident with his elbow and claimed he said sorry to him. He said he didn't mean to hurt anyone.
After the unanimous guilty verdict, Judge Michael O'Shea remanded O'Boyle on continuing bail to January 14 for sentencing. Mr. Kelly said the issue of compensation would be addressed between now and then.