GAA player broke rival's jaw in three places during 'good-spirited' match
A young Gaelic footballer has been convicted of assaulting an opponent whose jaw was broken in three places during a junior club match in Co Meath.
Kenneth Darby (23), of Ardnamullan, Enfield, had denied assaulting Brian Smith (28) at Clonard GAA grounds on August 28, 2011.
Darby was playing for Clonard GFC and Mr Smith was playing for St Mary's Donore at the time, Trim Circuit Court heard.
Mr Smith told the court that after 25 minutes of play he had been switched to mark the other team's number 13 – a player of medium build and with red hair – and within minutes he was struck on the left side of his jaw.
He said he was forced to leave the field as he was bleeding from the mouth and dazed.
His jaw had been pushed over and his teeth were not lining up, he said. He later required surgery at a hospital in Dublin.
Mr Smith told the court there had been "no pulling, dragging or verbal altercation" between the two players before the incident and he could not have been struck by anyone else as there had been no other players near them at the time.
Darby denied striking the other player.
"I have never raised my hand to anyone and never will," he said, adding that while he had probably been wearing the number 13 jersey on the day, he could have been wearing number 15. Cross-examined by prosecuting counsel Carl Hanahoe, he said he remembered his marker being switched but did not know who he was.
He said he had only become aware during the second half that one of the other team had been brought to hospital but did not know it was his marker.
Joe Reynolds, a water carrier for St Mary's, said he had seen the incident and there had been no other players in the vicinity at the time.
"Number 13 struck Brian Smith to the left side of the jaw. It was like a left hook or a punch," he said.
Marcus Morrison, the assistant manager of St Mary's, said he had seen the players running side by side, looked away for a second or two and when he looked back he saw Mr Smith bending down holding his jaw while Darby jogged away.
He added that he had complained to the referee at half-time that one of his players had been assaulted.
Referee Michael Ryan said no red or yellow cards had been issued in the game, which had been played in good spirits, and that at half-time he was told the number six on the St Mary's side had been injured.
Clonard team manager, the former Meath All-Ireland winner Kevin Foley, told the court he could not remember what number jersey Darby had been wearing.
Judge Michael O'Shea remanded Darby on continuing bail for sentencing in May.