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Ref's jaw broken in vicious assault by player's father

A REFEREE was expected to undergo a brain scan today following an assault by a parent after an underage football game.

Donal Gallagher, from Termon, Co Donegal, was hospitalised suffering a broken jaw after the vicious assault during the GAA match in Co Donegal on Wednesday evening.

The personal trainer and fitness instructor, who is in his mid twenties, was refereeing an Under-16 Divisional Three final between Milford and Lifford in Convoy when the incident occurred.

Lifford had been ahead for most of the game but Milford snatched victory by just two points in the closing minutes after two Lifford players had been sent off. After the final whistle, the young referee received what one spectator described as "a fierce slap on the jaw," allegedly from the father of one of the Lifford players.

"The Convoy officials did their best to get him to the dressing room safely after the match but the parent of one of the players hit him a right punch," said the spectator.


The injured referee was taken to Letterkenny General Hospital. He was later discharged but returned after complaining of feeling unwell.

Last night he was described as in a comfortable and stable condition. He was due to undergo a brain scan today.

The Chairman of Donegal's GAA Referee Committee Frankie Doherty confirmed last night that an investigation was under way.

"This has done nothing to enhance the image of the game and encourage young people to take up the whistle," he said.

Some spectators claimed that the referee had struggled to control the game which was unruly in its closing minutes.

A number of off-duty gardai who witnessed the events, attempted to break up the ensuing fracas.

County youth officer Liam McElhinney described it as "a very serious assault" on the referee. He said that the Board was now awaiting the referee's report on the incident.