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Gardai probe 'disgusting' assault on umpire at hurling final

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Umpire Kieran O'Connor

Umpire Kieran O'Connor

Umpire Kieran O'Connor

Gardai are investigating an incident at a hurling match in which an official had to be hospitalised after being struck with a hurley and kicked.

Kieran O'Connor (43) was umpiring at a Division 2 intermediate hurling league final in Kilmoyley, Co Kerry, last Sunday when he was struck a number of times with a hurley by a player.

Kerry County Board chairman, Patrick O'Sullivan, has described the incident as "disgusting" and "reprehensible".

He confirmed the referee's report had been submitted and the matter was now in the hands of the GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC).

Mr O'Connor has made a statement to gardai in Listowel, who are now investigating the incident. It is the second time in the past two months where there has been an incident at a hurling match where someone has been assaulted with a hurley.

A Co Kerry GAA official is currently serving a two-year ban following a county hurling final between Lixnaw and Kilmoyley, during which former Kerry star Paul Galvin was assaulted with a hurley.

Eye witnesses at last Sunday's game say Mr O'Connor was struck at least three times by a player from Ladies Walk GAA Club in Ballyduff, following an incident that occurred 10 minutes into the second half of the final against Causeway.

Flag

The ball was played into the Causeway forwards and opposition players argued it had gone over the end line, but neither umpire raised their flag and Causeway scored a goal.

One eye witness said Mr O'Connor was struck at least three times with the hurley.

"As he tried to defend himself with his arms, he fell to the ground where he was kicked in the back by the same player," the eye witness said.

A number of players from the Causeway side ran to Mr O'Connor's aid and stopped the attack. Referee Tony McCarthy immediately abandoned the match and Mr O'Connor was taken to Kerry General Hospital (KGH) by a family member who had been watching the match with his young child.

Mr O'Connor sustained a number of injuries, including a broken thumb, cuts and bruises to his head, soft tissue damage to his elbow and shoulder and severe bruising to his back.

After being discharged from hospital late on Sunday night, Mr O'Connor was driven to Listowel Garda Station where he gave a detailed statement to gardai. Kerry County Board chairman Patrick O'Sullivan said the GAA's CCCC would come back with its recommendations in due course.

He added: "Incidents like this should not be happening and will absolutely not be tolerated."

It is the second incident of violence at a Kerry hurling match that has been referred to the GAA's CCCC.

In October, vice chairman of Kilmoyley GAA club Paddy O'Sullivan was served with a two-year ban following an incident at a match where he ran onto the field during his club's clash against Lixnaw in the county hurling final and attacked Paul Galvin with a hurley. This followed a melee that occurred at the start of the second half that resulted in a Kilmoyley player ending up on the ground.

Mr O'Sullivan ran onto the field brandishing a hurley and confronted Galvin. He was escorted from the field by stewards and Galvin, who was uninjured, played on.

Mr O'Sullivan's club is also understood to have paid a four-figure bond to the county board that would be forfeited if there was any further misbehaviour by a club official or player. The game subsequently ended in a draw but Lixnaw overcame their rivals in the rematch the following week.

Irish Independent