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Seriously injured Co Offaly referee Daniel Sweeney the latest victim of match violence

Daniel Sweeney
By Mairead Holland

A REFEREE has been injured in an assault after a football match in Co Offaly, in what is the latest attack on a sports official.

Daniel Sweeney, who is in his 50s, sustained a broken jaw and an injured eye socket when a disturbance broke out in the car park of the ground in Horseleap on Sunday.

In September, referee Damien Harkin was allegedly assaulted by a spectator as he tried to leave the field at a Derry GAA senior club football championship game.

And in October, Coleraine Rugby Club was fined £5,000 after a female referee was verbally abused at the club last season.

Grainne Crabtree, a former City of Derry player, was subjected to sexist, verbal abuse from the touchline.

A number of recent GAA matches have also been marred by on-pitch brawls and violence.

The latest incident took place at around 1pm after a game in the Combined Counties Football League between Horseleap and Mullingar Town.

Mr Sweeney was taken to Tullamore hospital by ambulance.

Gardai have confirmed they are investigating the incident.

Chris Hand, secretary of the Combined Counties Football League, told RTÉ Soccer that the assault had shocked the community.

"Daniel has been a referee for a number of years and he's a good man," he said.

"The referee's report will be with us in the next few days or so, the individuals involved have been identified, they (have) immediately been suspended from all football activity."

He added: "We will follow up with the strongest action we can. I think what has surprised everybody was the level of violence.

"There is no place for this in sport, in any sport."

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