Fear gripped Dromid fans

DROMID PEARSES manager Michael Anthony O’Connell last night claimed his wife was forced to push their children underneath a seat in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise to protect them during the violent scenes that marred Sunday’s All-Ireland Club JFC semi-final defeat by Derrytresk.

Gardaí in Portlaoise last night confirmed they are waiting to speak to a number of people in relation to incidents in the tie between the Kerry and Tyrone champions, while GAA disciplinary chiefs will wait until they receive the report of referee Francis Flynn before deciding their action.

Kerry senior star Declan O’Sullivan was struck by a handbag and also by a Derrytresk supporter after the game, while in a separate incident before half-time, Dromid Pearses midfielder Thomas Curran was left concussed after being struck by a fan.

Fresh details emerged last night about the incident, with O’Connell revealing wing-back Denis ‘Shine’ O’Sullivan received a fractured cheekbone during a brawl in the first-half and also describing the fear that gripped supporters of the South Kerry club while watching the match. O’Connell said: “It was frightening stuff. My wife was sitting in the stand with our two children, Senan (9) and Muireann (6). When the melee started, she pushed the two of them underneath seats and tried to protect them as the Derrytresk supporters were jumping over them to get onto the field.

“The way they reacted and the fact that some of them had earpieces led her to believe this was premeditated.

“When I saw her after the game, she was shaking. There were a lot of other Dromid people who were frightened at what had gone on as well. My wife and kids came to that game to support their local club but have we now got to a stage where we can’t bring our families to GAA matches?

“We can take our beating and we know we lost the game. But I’ve a problem with how they acted and I think they should be punished.”

GAA operations manager Fergal McGill insists a need for an investigation will not be determined until the contents of Leitrim whistler Flynn’s report are examined.

That report is likely to be submitted today and McGill also revealed any video footage of the match will need to be ‘unedited’ if it is to be used in any potential investigation.

There were no television stations present at the game but footage was recorded by Caherciveen native Christy Riordan, who runs a video production company ‘CR Videos.

“With any GAA disciplinary investigation, video footage would have to be unedited for us to use it,” said McGill.

“That is always the case and if there is an investigation, that would apply as well. But we’ll be waiting for the referee’s report before deciding what course of action to take and that’s the standard procedure. We generally get it by the Tuesday after a game but that is not set in stone.”

Dromid Pearses boss O’Connell has called for a full investigation into the incidents at the Portlaoise venue and described the extent of the injuries that his players suffered.

“Thomas Curran played the last six minutes of the first-half and was concussed but I had no idea about that. He was inside in the dressing-room at half-time and telling his brother to get the milk out of the fridge. The man thought he was at home in Dromid, he didn’t know where he was at all.

“One of our substitutes, Micheal O’Shea, saw Thomas getting hit and went in to help him. He reckoned if he didn’t, they would have killed him. Then there was five of them who got Denis Shine on the ground as well. They fractured his cheekbone, ripped the jersey off him and drove the boot into his back. His back is destroyed, he could barely move yesterday. They were also grabbing the testicles of our players before the match.”

O’Connell believes the match would have ultimately been abandoned had Dromid Pearses been ahead entering the closing stages and described the level of intimidation targeted at former All-Ireland winning captain O’Sullivan as ‘scandalous. Even at the final whistle, when they had won the game, they still weren’t happy and followed him as he tried to leave the pitch. It was scary stuff.”

A Garda statement last night said: “Gardaí are aware of the incident and are waiting to speak to a number of people.”

* Derrytresk and Tyrone Co Board could not be contacted yesterday.


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