Sport Gaelic Football

Sunday 21 January 2018

Limerick to curtail fans for football replay after final fracas

James Kelly of Newcastlewest receives attention following the incident
James Kelly of Newcastlewest receives attention following the incident
Martin Stokes struck Newcastlewest footballer James Kelly during the Limerick county final
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

SUPPORTERS at this Friday's Limerick SFC final replay at the Gaelic Grounds will be restricted to the main stand in the wake of the ugly scenes that marred the drawn match.

County board officials have already launched an investigation into the shocking incident, which saw a spectator enter the field of play to physically confront Newcastle West forward James Kelly (pictured below).

The episode has raised questions about the security arrangements at the venue, which is also hosting the replay this Friday (7.15).

Limerick secretary Michael O'Riordan told the Irish Independent that it was impossible to make Limerick's main GAA venue 100pc secure because it was relatively open and did not have any perimeter fencing.

He said that, while not expecting any repeat, they will only open the Mackey Stand side of the grounds for the replay, so that supporters are curtailed to one area.

The supporter involved in last Sunday's altercation was Martin Stokes, father of inter-county senior Jason Stokes, who was lining out for Drom-Broadford.

He entered the field from the terraced side of the pitch, after Kelly -- Newcastle West's top scorer with 2-2 -- had just got his marching orders for a second yellow card in the dying minutes.

From the resultant free, Drom-Broadford swept downfield and Michael Reidy snatched their last-gasp equaliser.

It is understood photographs of the incident, as well as the match video and the referee's report, were all considered by the Limerick County Board CCC (Competitions Control Committee) last night.

Last Sunday's senior decider was also marred by a melee between players after the half-time whistle. And, worryingly, it was the second time in as many weeks that there was a problem locally, with Limerick's CCC also looking into another major disciplinary incident last night.

They were investigating what happened at the end of the drawn county intermediate football final between Claughaun and Pallasgreen a week ago, when a brawl reportedly broke out after full-time in Bruff.

A county U-16 shield final between Old Christians and South Liberties was also abandoned recently but O'Riordan insisted that Limerick does not have an emerging problem or a culture of match violence.

"I think anyone who studies our record over the past five or six years will see that we have had very, very little disciplinary problems," he stressed. "I cannot comment or pre-empt what actions will be taken by the CCC but we received the referee's match report very promptly and all the proper procedures will be followed."

Tensions are expected to be high when Drom-Broadford and Newcastle West meet again on Friday evening, a date agreed because one of Newcastle's players is getting married on Saturday.

Irish Independent

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