Friday 24 November 2017

Police and GAA probe attacks on officials at ladies' final

Fiona Ellis

TWO separate investigations have been launched after a referee and a senior official were knocked out at the end of a ladies' football county final.

The GAA and police are investigating after referee Simon Brady was knocked unconscious at the end of the Tyrone Ladies' Senior Football final between St Macartan's of Augher and Carrickmore.

The county final was played last Friday evening in Beragh, Co Tyrone. St Macartan's won the match by a single point.

Mr Brady was knocked unconscious after a man ran on to the pitch following the final whistle and punched him while his back was turned.

When Mr Brady was hit, Tyrone ladies' football chairman Martin Conway stepped in to help. He was surrounded by at least seven men and was headbutted by one of the group. The impact broke his nose and knocked him unconscious.

"Both of us were laid out in the field moments after the final whistle," Mr Brady said.

"I got a tap on the shoulder from a gentleman who was looking to shake my hand. Then someone else decided they wanted to exact some sort of revenge."

Mr Brady said there was no trouble during the match and that he spoke to management from both teams several times without any dispute.

"There was no underlying current of anything untoward in the game, and I personally felt I was having a really good game."

Mr Brady said at the time he was frightened but refuses to be put off the game he loves.

"I was frightened on the night absolutely. I was frightened over the weekend and disturbed that this could have happened.

"I am more determined to go back out on the football field as soon as possible. I can't wait to get out. This hasn't deterred me in any way.

"Hopefully, something good will come out of the whole thing and we can move forward and learn from this," he added.

Mr Conway said this was a once-off event, very untypical and did not involve any of the players. He said he would continue in his work with ladies' football.

Condemned

Helen O'Rourke, chief executive of the Ladies' Gaelic Football Association, condemned the attack.

"Nobody wants to read about scenes like those witnessed in Tyrone and we would condemn those involved," she said.

"However, incidents like these are rare and isolated and we as an association are confident that the Tyrone County Board and the relevant authorities will deal with this in a swift and appropriate manner."

An emergency full county board meeting took place yesterday evening at Cappagh to discuss the incident.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it was aware of a report of an assault in Beragh and said that inquiries were ongoing.

Irish Independent

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