By Declan Brennan
An avid sports fan who attacked a man in a pub with a baseball bat in a row over Olympic sailing has avoided a prison sentence.
Plasterer Patrick O'Reilly (56) became enraged when other drinkers in the Kiltipper Inn in Tallaght, Dublin began jeering him over his defence of the sport and Irish Olympic sailor, Annalise Murphy.
O'Reilly left the pub and went to his home a few minutes walk away. He grabbed a baseball bat and returned to the pub and attacked one of the customers involved in the row.
Garda Cian Steers told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that O'Reilly struck Frank Shannon a number of times before others disarmed him. O'Reilly then left but handed himself into gardai the following day.
Mr Shannon suffered a full depth hole in his upper lip. He has recovered but the injury has left a small but permanent scar. He had no broken bones or teeth.
O'Reilly of Carrigmore View, Aylesbury, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Mr Shannon at the Kiltipper Inn on August 8, 2016. He also pleaded guilty to unlawful production of a baseball bat during a dispute.
Gaby Dean BL, defending, told the court that her client was an avid sports fan. He had dropped into his local pub after work and drank about five pints.
She said he and five other customers were at the bar watching the Olympics and the other men began ridiculing Ms Murphy and “minority sports”.
The court heard the other men believed sailing was an elitist sport and should not be part of the Olympics. Heated words were exchanged and O'Reilly became infuriated.
As he was leaving, the other men were laughing and jeering at him and calling him names.
“He saw red,” Ms Dean said.
In a rage, O'Reilly came back with the bat. He knew his behaviour was inexcusable and was extremely remorseful, Ms Dean said. She said he had little memory of the assault but woke up the next morning full of regret.
O'Reilly has two caps for Ireland in hockey and also previously took part in rugby, soccer and boxing as a youth. He remains involved in rugby coaching and is also involved in youth club work.
Gda Steers told the court O'Reilly has no other convictions and this was out of character for him.
Judge Patrick Quinn said O'Reilly made a stupid decision on the night but he put his hands up immediately.
He suspended a 12-month prison sentence on condition that O'Reilly pay a sum of €1,000 to the victim.
He noted the man's good character and the fact that he was very apologetic and remorseful.