Footballer cleared of causing horror injury to opponent on pitch
A young footballer who grabbed another player's testicles tearing his scrotum has been cleared of assault.
Darren Morgan (21), of Elm Grove, Rockfield, Kells, Co Meath, had pleaded not guilty at Trim Circuit Court to assault causing harm to Shane Ryan (19), of Garristown, Co Meath, at Skryne GAA grounds, Skryne, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, on September 25, 2009.
Mr Morgan had been playing full-back for Round Towers of Kells while Mr Ryan had been playing half-forward for St Vincents/Curraha in the semi-final of the minor county championship at the time.
Mr Ryan had told the court that early in the game Mr Morgan had come through a scuffle of players, grabbed him and knocked him to the ground.
He added that Mr Morgan later made a groin-grabbing gesture to the player who was marking him.
A short time later Shane Ryan scored a goal and following this he was assaulted by Mr Morgan, the court heard.
"He squared up to me as if he was going to headbutt me but instead he grabbed my testicles, squeezed and pulled.
"He laughed at me. I looked into my shorts and there was no scrotum there," Mr Ryan said. He added that he was screaming in pain and his shorts were covered in blood.
He said he was in such pain that he could not go down on the ground and left the pitch, adding that the referee would not stop the game as he was then off the field of play.
The court heard Mr Ryan was given first aid in the dressing room where he went into a panic attack before being taken by ambulance to Our Lady's Hospital in Navan.
He was released from hospital after a number of days.
Mr Ryan agreed with defence that he was taking a civil action against the defendant and the GAA but denied he was doing it for money.
"I'm doing it for justice," he said.
Mr Morgan told Garda Shane Dooley that while trying to stop Mr Ryan get the football he had grabbed the player by the testicles accidentally and had not meant to hurt him.
"I grabbed him by the balls, I meant to grab his shorts or jersey. I didn't mean to grab so hard," he said.
He denied making gestures at Shane Ryan or attempting to headbutt him or sneering at him.
He said that when the game was over the players had been advised to take off their jerseys as the father of the injured player was going mad looking for whoever had injured his son.
Asked by the defence how the media got hold of the story Gda Dooley said there were a lot of people at the match and they were talking about it but were not talking to the gardai.
A number of witnesses who had attended the match said they had seen Mr Ryan in distress on the pitch but had not seen how he had gotten injured.
Francis McNulty, who was co-manager of the St Vincents team, said it had been a very free-flowing competitive match.
"He was one of the best players," said Mr McNulty.
Following an attack by his team, the ball was cleared down the field and there was "a coming together of players", according to the witness.
"I was standing at the halfway line. Shane Ryan was on the pitch right in front of me in extreme distress.
"He said he could not go down on the ground and I took him off," said Mr McNulty.
After the conclusion of evidence, the jury of seven men and five women took two hours to return a not guilty verdict to a burst of applause from friends of Mr Morgan.
Neither Mr Morgan nor Mr Ryan would make any comment when they left the court yesterday.