A referee at an underage match was accosted by an adult supporting the home team who called him a "fucking dog" for awarding a penalty to the away team.
The match took place at St Mary’s soccer club in Kilcully, Co Cork, and at the height of the incident the man, who ran onto the pitch, said he was going to say a prayer at the nearby cemetery and that the ref should join him.
45-year-old Michael Lyons of Stoneyview, Knockbrack, Burnfort, Co Cork, pleaded guilty yesterday at Cork District Court to a charge of engaging in threatening behaviour and assaulting referee Jonathan Perrott on May 6, 2019.
While he pleaded guilty to assault and was described as being “in the face” of the referee there was no evidence of an actual physical assault.
Joseph Cuddigan, defence solicitor, said on behalf of Michael Lyons that he had no previous criminal convictions.
“He fully accepted that what occurred should not have occurred. He unreservedly apologised for his behaviour. He understands there is much praise due to people who give their time freely to keep young people in sport. We have handed in a letter of apology to the injured party today,” Mr Cuddigan said.
Judge Olann Kelleher said he would adjourn sentencing until December 7 to allow time for preparation of a probation report on the defendant.
Sergeant John Kelleher said the referee at the U16 soccer match between St Mary’s and Springfield Ramblers of Cobh made a complaint to gardaí that he was assaulted after awarding a penalty to the away team in the 77th minute of the match.
Sgt Kelleher said the defendant ran from the sideline, a distance of 40-50 metres onto the pitch and verbally abused the referee, calling him a “fucking dog” numerous times. The match was abandoned by the referee.
The sergeant said the defendant said to the ref that he was going to the neighbouring graveyard to say a prayer and the referee could join him and he would “give it to him”.