The umpire, Kieran O’Connor (43), has reported the incident to gardaí in Listowel following the attack during a Kerry IHL Division Two final between Causeway and Lady’s Walk from Ballyduff.
Mr O’Connor, from Causeway, is an experienced umpire and was part of referee Tony McCarthy’s regular group of match officials.
The incident occurred 10 minutes into the second half, with Causeway leading. A ball was played into the Causeway forwards but opposition players claimed the ball had gone over the end line. However, neither umpire waved the ball wide and play continued, with Causeway subsequently scoring a goal.
This appeared to have been the cue for “all hell to break loose”, according to one eyewitness, who claimed that one of the Ladies Walk players then ran across the field and struck the umpire three of four times with his hurley. Mr O’Connor then fell to the ground and was then struck again by the player.
A number of Causeway players then intervened and pulled the attacker away from the umpire who was in a “distressed state”.
Referee McCarthy quickly abandoned the game.
Mr O’Connor was taken to Kerry General Hospital in Tralee to be assessed later that evening.
He was found to have a broken thumb, soft tissue damage to his shoulder and elbow along with a head injury.
Mr O’Connor subsequently went to the gardaí in Listowel to report the incident.
It’s the second case of an on-pitch attack in Kerry in recent weeks, with Paul Galvin struck by a Kilmoyley official just after half-time in last month’s county hurling final in Tralee. The perpetrator was subsequently banned for 48 weeks.
Kingdom GAA chairman Patrick O’Sullivan said the county board considered this latest episode a “grave issue” for the GAA in Kerry. He said that pending the referee’s report, the matter would be swiftly handed over to the board’s CCC and dealt with as promptly as possible.
“This sort of behaviour is reprehensible and casts a shadow on all our efforts to promote the Association in this county. No umpire, referee or linesman should be subjected to this behaviour, which is nothing short of cowardly in my view. We need to send out a clear message that this cannot and will not be tolerated.” Causeway and Ballyduff officials could not be contacted for comment last night.