A young referee who was allegedly attacked in a Schoolboy League game in Dublin over the weekend has vowed to continue officiating because of his love for the game.
An investigation is underway after Roy Kavanagh was allegedly kicked in the leg and stomach while officiating a Dublin District Schoolboy League (DDSL) under 15s match in Dublin on Saturday.
Roy did referee another game the following day and is determined to keep officiating because he does not believe "any one person should stop you doing what you love", but he does recognise how an incident like this would put others off the job.
The 22-year-old referee took to social media after the incident saying: "All I do is referee because I have passion for the game and this is my only way of being involved in it.
"I don’t have a car and travel to most games via bus and many times I’ve walked to and from the like of Terenure and Walkinstown to be there. The last thing I expect is to be attacked and assaulted for no reason.
"Now I see why so many young lads are reluctant to do this. I just hope the authorities and the league can handle this the right way because nobody should have to put up with what I put with today."
The morning after the incident, Roy posted photos of his injuries on Facebook and said he was "shaken" by the incident, but also pointed out that he was encouraged to referee again.
He said: "Starting to bruise out this morning its sore I have to say, my hand is swollen out from trying to block his kicks and my stomach is really sore.
"I'm shaken by it there is no point in saying I'm not. As everyone has said and encouraged me to do though why should I let one person stop me doing what I love to do.
"Off out to referee again today. Thanks to everyone for your messages and support, it means a lot to me."
Roy was interviewed by keepitonthedeck.com, who asked him about the incident.
He said: "I can make no comment on the incident Saturday due to a pending legal case, although I am overwhelmed and extremely grateful for peoples' support I would ask people respect that I will be following this matter up with the authorities. Details and naming of persons involved will be handled by the authorities.
"I am left with extensive bruising and I will admit that I am shocked and upset by what happened. I can't give any details on the incident.
"I just hope this can highlight the need to respect all involved in the game. We all try our best at the end of the day, referees included, it's just a game, these are kids, the referees are human too, there is no need - no matter the circumstances - to allow frustrations or emotions ruin something so many should and can enjoy, it should be about the kids at the end of the day."
Talking about his bravery in going out to officiate the following day, Roy was very modest.
He said: "I don't want to be seen as a hero at all, I got up the next day to referee because I don't believe any one person should stop you doing what you love, I had a game and I would never miss a game, I love doing this.
"The real heroes are people like the people at Broadford Rovers and Leixlip United football club who I refereed that morning (the day after the incident) and the people who came to my aid during the incident on Saturday, there are plenty like them in football."
He went on to commend the people at the game he was in charge of on Sunday, the day after the incident.
He said: "The people at Broadford Rovers and Leixlip United welcomed me (the day after alleged assault) and saw I was carrying injuries, they told me to take my time and if I wanted to abandon the game I could and they would fully understand that. When I decided to continue with the game they assured me there would be no trouble and respect shown at all times.
"The game went ahead and was enjoyed by all in the true spirit of football, they even insisted on giving me a lift afterwards, that to me is the stories that should be highlighted, the good in football far outweigh the bad."
Gardaí say they are investigating the alleged assault and the Chair of the DDSL, Paddy Dempsey, said the alleged attacker will appear before a DDSL committee on Thursday.
Under FAI rules, a person could be suspended from schoolboy football matches for a minimum of 12 months if found guilty of attacking a referee, but in some instances a person could be suspended for between five and 10 years.
Mr Dempsey said it was the worst incident that he had come across, stressed that it "shouldn't happen" and described it as "abhorrent".
He said the Schoolboy Football Association of Ireland and the FAI are being kept informed about the investigation, and hopes the incident does not deter Mr Kavanagh from taking part in future games.