Saturday 20 July 2019

Footballer never played again after assault by player who broke his jaw

At yesterday's sentencing hearing, Mr O'Hara said he has never played again. Stock photo
At yesterday's sentencing hearing, Mr O'Hara said he has never played again. Stock photo

Brendan Furlong

A GAA footballer has told how he never played again after an off-the-ball assault by an opposing player who broke his jaw.

Larry Morrissey (42), of Ballycronigan, Rosslare, Co Wexford, had pleaded not guilty to assaulting Bryan O'Hara (32), of HWH/Bunclody, during a Wexford intermediate football championship match at Bellefield on August 20, 2016.

However, the St Mary's Rosslare player was found guilty by a jury at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court earlier this year.

At yesterday's sentencing hearing, Mr O'Hara said he has never played again.

"I was playing with teammates who had been friends for years. I always felt pride while representing my club with these friends. However, during this match, I was assaulted by Larry Morrissey, and it would be the last time I ever played," he said.

The court heard there was a tussle for the ball between the two players, with Mr O'Hara attempting to block Morrissey. After this, Mr O'Hara went further up the field.

He was conscious of someone coming from behind and he was struck by a punch on the right side of his jaw by the defendant and fell to the ground.

"Blood immediately began to pour from my mouth and it felt as if the whole inside part of the front of my mouth had been cut open," said Mr O'Hara.

Mr O'Hara underwent surgery at St James's Hospital in Dublin to repair his jaw, which had been broken in two places.

He had three plates inserted - one at the back of his mouth and two in his chin - and a wire was inserted to hold his teeth together. He said he had to use a straw to eat for the next 10 weeks.

He said he continued to have pain over the following 18 months and was "very conscious of how my appearance has changed and my face is now misaligned".

"Every photo at a wedding or event needs to be retaken and for me to be told to smile and not try to hold my face differently," he said.

"All of this is made harder by the fact that Larry Morrissey never contacted me to apologise or inquire of my well-being. He has never shown remorse and, both in the GAA hearing and more recently in the court case, has chosen to not admit what he has done."

Judge Cormac Quinn said it was a cowardly attack. He said among the mitigating factors were that Morrissey is a married man with two children and has been involved in the GAA for more than 33 years without such an incident.

He sentenced him to 18 months in prison, suspended for 18 months.

Irish Independent

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