Steward comments on Croker incident

Steward comments on Croker incident

The steward that was knocked to the ground after being hit with a plastic bottle during the chaotic scenes after last Sunday's Leinster SFC final has spoken for the first time since his ordeal.

Eddie Geoghegan from Bracknagh, just outside Portarlington, on the Laois-Offaly border; has been a voluntary steward for almost 10 years.

Geoghegan is part of the 40-strong group of Laois stewards that travel from the O'Moore county every weekend for events at Croke Park, sporting and otherwise.

However, in his decade-long voluntary role, nothing could have prepared Geoghegan for what unfolded last Sunday afternoon in the provincial decider between Meath and Louth.

"There was one young lad, I can still see his face, and he was thundering towards the referee," explained Geoghegan, in the match programmes for this weekend's All-Ireland football and hurling qualifiers.

"I was trying to restrain him along with another steward and then I got a thump at the back of the head and next thing I was on my back on the ground. I hadn't a clue what was happening."

The thump Geoghegan received was from a half-full soft drink bottle that had been launched by a spectator from the lower tier of the Davin Stand end.

With his back turned, the 30-year-old got an unexpected thump and was left dazed and confused. While being tended to, he had to lie on the red mesh which borders the pitch.

Geoghegan has been left with a bump on his head as a result of the ordeal, but for him the damage is superficial.

He believes that potential pitch invasions could have a negative effect on the unique ethos of volunteerism that make the big days at Croke Park.

"To get assaulted doing a voluntary job is not on. A lot of people have to cop on to themselves," he said.

"I can see that if it does continue, and more and more officials or stewards get injured, a lot of people will be dropping out (from volunteering as stewards).

"In Croke Park you have the same stewards there every week without fail, year on year. You can see people sitting back and thinking 'do we really need this?'

"If there are no stewards up there, no Gardaí or no referee, you have no game."

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