McAteer calls on Cluxton to apologise over punch
FORMER Ireland international footballer Jason McAteer has said GAA star Stephen Cluxton should apologise to the organisers of a charity match for throwing a punch during a row between the pair.
Dublin goalkeeper Cluxton hit out at McAteer during a charity soccer match in aid of Autism Ireland at Morton Stadium in Santry, north Dublin, on Sunday.
Cluxton lined out for Darndale FC, while McAteer was playing for Liverpool/Manchester United Legends.
Cluxton threw a punch at McAteer, knocking the soccer player off balance. Reports said that McAteer was fouling Cluxton throughout the match. Both players were sent off.
But speaking yesterday, McAteer apportioned the majority of the blame on Cluxton, saying a "bit of competitiveness" was normal at a charity game but nobody expected "a punch to be thrown".
McAteer apologised for his part in the incident, adding that he was disappointed by some of the comments on the social networking site Twitter on the incident -- in particular those made by boxer Bernard Dunne.
"I am so disappointed and I would like to say sorry to the organisers who went to the effort of organising this charity game. There has been a lot of stuff on Twitter from Bernard Dunne about how Cluxton is a hard man," he said.
Cluxton's Dublin team-mate Bernard Brogan tweeted the picture with the title: 'Cluckinator droppin McAteer' and said to boxer Bernard Dunne, "you would of been proud of that left hook".
Dunne tweeted: "Heading to Clare to hide out as I hear 'left hook' Cluxton is looking for a new sparring partner."
But McAteer dismissed the punch, describing the incident as "handbags".
He added that the Dublin goalkeeper had a "history of getting sent off" -- referring to Cluxton's dismissal in the third round of the All-Ireland Qualifiers in 2003 against Armagh, with then manager Tommy Lyons blaming him for Dublin's defeat.
"We know Stephen has a history of getting sent off. He was sent off in the infamous incident where he let a lot of people down in Dublin and it probably cost him an All-Ireland. I just feel it was a stupid thing he did," he said.
He said the punch came "out of the blue" and was disappointing as a lot of people had "paid hard-earned cash to see the game".
McAteer said Cluxton, who had no comment to make on the incident, should apologise to the organisers.
"This is not about him being a hard man, he should show some humility and maybe apologise, rather than make out he is a hard man," he said.
Meanwhile, Clutxon's manager says the punch should not "overshadow the charity occasion the players were both supporting".
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Dublin manager Pat Gilroy said the incident "should be let lie".
"We shouldn't be losing sight of Autism Action. That's the important thing," Gilroy said.
Kevin Whelan of Autism Action said the incident "was one of those heat of the moment things".
Despite the drama, the event was a great success and 3,000 tickets at €10 each were sold.