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Neck injury

Wicklow quarter-final 'ends' in bitter row

THE image of Wicklow GAA has again been tarnished by unsightly violence involving two of the county's top senior football teams.

Yesterday's county SFC quarter-final between Rathnew and Blessington 'ended' prematurely in highly controversial circumstances after Blessington refused to come back out onto the pitch after an all-in brawl which lasted approximately eight minutes.

The fighting broke out with Rathnew leading by 2-4 to 0-8 and the match entering its final throes after a Blessington player was felled close to the opposition goals. When order was restored, the referee Kieran Kenny sent off a player from both teams and restarted the match but the violence flared up again in pockets around the pitch.

A further seven minutes of the match was played until a lengthy stoppage ensued due to a neck injury sustained by one Blessington player.

As the teams waiting for an ambulance to arrive at the scene, Blessington players and management returned to their dressing room but following the removal of the player to hospital, the club informed the referee that they would not be returning to the pitch.

Kenny allowed them the mandatory three minutes to return before calling off the game in the last stages of a second half which had lasted over 100 minutes.

By law, Rathnew will be awarded the game but the Wicklow county board will await Kenny's report before commencing disciplinary action.

A day previous, Annacurra and Baltinglass were involved in a melee in their quarter-final while five players were sent off in a relegation match between Carnew and An Tochar.