A former Dublin football player accused of breaking an off-duty garda's jaw during a football match has said he was reacting to his opponent hitting him in his testicles first.
Brendan McManamon (aged 31) was giving evidence in his defence today on the fourth day of his trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, where he is charged with assault causing harm.
Mr McManamon of Cypress Downs, Templeogue has pleaded not guilty to the assault on former Longford player Garda Enda Ledwith at Na Fianna GAA Club, St Mobhi Road, Glasnevin on March 31, 2012.
The trial has heard that Gda Ledwith’s jaw was broken during the last 10 minutes of a match between Na Fianna and St Jude’s of Templeogue. Gda Ledwith was playing for the home team, while the accused was with St Jude’s.
Mr McManamon told his counsel, Breffni Gordon BL, that he had been playing Gaelic football for St Jude’s since he was five years old and that he based his life around football.
He testified that he had played thousands of games and had been on the Dublin senior panel during 2008 and 2009. He still played with St Jude’s, he said.
The accused said that he was playing left corner forward on the day in question and that Gda Ledwith was marking him quite closely for the whole game.
“I was trying to play a forward’s game and he was trying to play a back’s game,” he explained.
He was asked to watch some footage of the match being played frame by frame, and to explain what was happening.
“That’s Enda following me across,” he said.
“The two of us are facing each other. I’m facing the goal and ball,” he continued. “This is where he draws his left hand back to strike me.”
Mr McManamon said Gda Ledwith then struck him between his legs, hitting his testicles.
“As soon as he hit me, I reacted,” he said. “I swung my right hand out there in defence, in self defence as a reaction to being hit.”
He said he told the referee that Gda Ledwith had hit him first.
“I was in a lot of pain at that stage,” he said. “He gave me a red card and I walked off the pitch.”
He agreed with his barrister that he admitted from the start that he had hit Gda Ledwith and caused his broken jaw.
“I wouldn’t want to hurt anybody, especially an injury like that. That’s why I wanted to see after the match was he ok,” he said, referring to his apology to Gda Ledwith before he was taken away in an ambulance.
“When I saw an ambulance coming, I got the realisation that the injury was quite serious,” he said. “I said I know you did hit me first, but I don’t want to see you like this so apologies for what happened. He pulled his jacket over his head.”
The accused said that it wasn’t a nice feeling to have caused such an injury.
“I didn’t feel right for a while. It was a place I’d never been before,” he said.
He said he had never punched anyone during a GAA match or done anything like that.
“I’d never been struck in the testicles by a player before,” he added.
“GAA is a physical game,” he said, indicating that he had been shouldered. “But when it’s a strike to an area so sensitive, that’s a different story.”
The court heard that Gda Ledwith spent three days in hospital for his fractured jaw and had three metal plates inserted during surgery.
The then St Jude’s manager, Ciarán McGovern, also gave evidence for the defence.
“I noticed our corner forward and Na Fianna’s corner back became entangled,” testified the former Leitrim player.
“I observed the Na Fianna player raise his arm and the St Jude’s player raise his arm as if in defence,” he said.
He said that Mr McManamon was a hugely committed player and a well liked and respected member of the club.
“He’s very dedicated to his football,” he said. “I’ve never witnessed Brendan being in this kind of situation.”
The case continues before Judge Patricia Ryan and a jury of nine men and three women.