Wednesday 21 March 2018

McGrath 'ashamed and embarrassed' over arrest

Star agrees to coach schoolchildren to avoid conviction

Paul McGrath leaving the court in Tullamore
Paul McGrath leaving the court in Tullamore
Glory days: Paul McGrath lining out for Ireland

Eoghan MacConnell

FORMER Ireland soccer international Paul McGrath has agreed to coach children in order to avoid a conviction for public-order offences.

He was arrested in a drunken state following a wedding after being found trying to get into two parked cars, a court heard.

But the judge in the case said he would spare him a conviction if he did a day's coaching with youngsters at Tullamore Soccer Club in Co Offaly.

Judge Alan Mitchell told Mr McGrath: "You were in Tullamore for a wedding. You will be coming back now to help young people."

The ex-footballer faced charges at Tullamore District Court for intoxication and threatening and abusive behaviour under the Public Order Act, arising from an incident at the Tullamore Court Hotel on June 29.

The wedding that Mr McGrath (53) had attended earlier was not at the Tullamore Court Hotel, but at another location.


Inspector John Lawless said: "Gardai were called to the Tullamore Court Hotel at 3.10am. He (Mr McGrath) was drunk and attempted to get into two parked cars."

When gardai approached, Mr McGrath was "shouting in a disturbed manner" and appeared aggressive, he added.

Solicitor Donal Farrelly said his client was pleading guilty. He described Mr McGrath as "one of the greatest footballers Ireland ever had."

He added: "Unfortunately, Paul suffers from a debilitating disorder called social phobia. He suffers from acute anxiety. To deal with that anxiety, he sometimes turns to drink.

"He is extremely ashamed and embarrassed about what happened; he doesn't remember the incident.

"Because of his fame, this very public humiliation is all the more painful. He finds it very hard to deal with."

The court heard that the separated father of six, who is normally accompanied at events by an agent or friend, attended the wedding on his own and was offered alcohol.

Mr Farrelly said his client had handed in a letter of apology to both the gardai and the staff at the hotel. He has no recollection of the event.

The judge noted that Mr McGrath was a "national hero" and described his actions at the hotel as "out of character".

He asked if Mr McGrath would be prepared to coach some local children and said he would agree to deal with the matter under the Probation Act.

The judge suggested he could train a number of children of different age groups during the day and said: "I think it might be something positive."

Mr McGrath, who has an address at Tomsallagh, Ferns in Co Wexford, responded: "Yeah, I'll do it. No problem."

The judge dismissed the charges under the Probation Act with liberty to re-enter, explaining to Mr McGrath: "That would only be if you didn't engage."

The judge allowed six months for the completion of the full day of training.

Mr McGrath signed autographs before leaving the courthouse.

Irish Independent

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