Friday 19 January 2018

Video: Players 'hit in the testicles before match even began'

One player may require surgery after having his cheek bone broken during the brawl
One player may require surgery after having his cheek bone broken during the brawl
Fans look on in terror as tempers flare during the Derrytresk v Dromid Pearses All-Ireland Junior Club semi-final at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise
Sean and Diarmuid O Se examine the jersey of Dromid player Denis 'Shine' O'Sullivan, who was hurt during the brawl in Portlaoise

Cliona Foley and Majella O'Sullivan

A GAA match that spilled over into an ugly brawl was marred by dirty tricks from the very start, club officials said last night.

A furious Dromid Pearses manager claimed his players had their testicles tugged when they approached opponents from Derrytresk to shake hands.

The match between the Kerry team and Tyrone champions Derrytresk spilled over into a full-on brawl just before half time.

There was chaos at O'Moore Park in Portlaoise, Co Laois, on Sunday when subs and supporters from Derrytresk jumped a barrier and invaded the pitch.

The ensuing violence left one player concussed and another with a broken cheekbone.

Croke Park officials were last night awaiting a referee's report into the All-Ireland junior football semi-final clash. But the GAA is under pressure to launch a full investigation and to review footage of the match.

Gardai said they were waiting to speak to a number of people.

Dromid Pearses manager Michael Anthony O'Connell condemned Derrytresk's tactics.

"We were beaten by unfair tactics. At the start of the game, three of my players were caught by the testicles," Mr O'Connell said.

"When our fellas went to shake hands with them, the Derrytresk went for their testicles and pulled them at the start of the game. That conduct has no place on a football field. What they wanted was for our players to retaliate, but we are better than that."

He wants Derrytresk thrown out of the All-Ireland junior football championship, and added: "Somebody has to put their foot down. What happened on Sunday has no place in the GAA, it was disgraceful."

Mr O'Connell added: "I don't think I will ever go to a football game again if they are not thrown out. The GAA has to make a stand now.

"There were kids crying in the stand, frightened by what was going on. How do you expect kids to go to football games when this happens?"

During the scuffle, Dromid midfielder Thomas Curran suffered a concussion and was not able to take part in the second half.

Dromid's Denis Shine O'Sullivan suffered a broken cheekbone and was left with boot marks on his back.

The 36-year-old farmer went to Tralee Hospital yesterday and may yet need surgery.

It is also claimed that Kerry star Declan O'Sullivan was struck by a handbag while leaving the field, but has declined to press charges.

The Dromid manager admits that he would have ordered his team off the field after the first-half brawl if he knew that Mr Curran had been concussed.

"They absolutely destroyed us. They shattered the team, our lads never before witnessed anything like that. We have no problem being beaten fair and square out on the field but we weren't beaten fairly."

Journalist Damian Stack, who was at the game, said it was one of the worst scenes he had ever witnessed at a match.

"It started as a bit of a scuffle for possession of the ball but all of a sudden it completely kicked off," said the 'Kerryman' reporter.

Diarmuid O Se, Dromid selector and Kerry County Board officer, claimed security at the game was slack, which the Laois County Board has denied.

Mr O Se has called on officials to view footage of the game, which was won on the Co Tyrone side by 1-10 to 0-7.

He said that wing-back Mr O'Sullivan (36), who is also the club's vice-chairman, received the most serious injury.

"When he came into the dressing room at half time, his number five jersey was shredded with stud marks at the back. We have pictures of his back which is like a dart board."

Club chairman Michael Sheehan also said Dromid Pearses had taped the match and will make their copy available.

He added that the scene was "like something that would go on outside a chipper at 2.30 in the morning and, if it did, they would have been arrested".

He added: "This isn't sport. When players go on to a field they expect it to be tough and we have no problem with losing the match, and the actual match result.

"But when people come from the stands and assault players, then the GAA has to take action, this is something that cannot be tolerated," he added.

Fans also claimed they were subjected to intimidation by Co Tyrone supporters during the game.

Derrytresk officials were unavailable for comment.

Irish Independent

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