GAA Football

In The Irish News - Mar 14 1998: RUC confirm players could be charged after disturbances in Belfast derbies

BLOODY MESS...a steward hit by a stone thrown by Glentoran supporters on Saturday after their team was beaten 3-0 by Linfield at Windsor Park
Andy Watters

THE RUC confirmed yesterday that players could be charged for their part in the disturbances at the two Belfast Irish League derby matches last weekend.

Irish Football Association officials were told that the police are preparing a file which will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to the actions of certain players at the Linfield v Glentoran and Crusaders v Cliftonville matches.

Irish League players have never previously been charged with inciting crowd violence although it has happened in a number of instances in both England and Scotland. IFA general-secretary David Bowen discussed last weekend’s scenes with RUC chiefs yesterday.

Bowen said afterwards the police had made it “perfectly clear that they are totally unhappy with what happened last weekend both on the field and off the field”.

“We were left in no doubt that the police will now prepare a file in particular in respect of the players behaviour to the DPP.

“The police will now study the stills and media coverage of both games. They will prepare files on any players they feel who went beyond the Pale on this occasion and at the same time they made clear criminal proceedings are ongoing against certain spectators,” added the IFA official.

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ARMAGH’S charge for the crucial NFL play-offs is expected to be boosted by the fitness of top scorer Diarmuid Marsden for tomorrow’s showdown with Derry. A point divides the provincial rivals as they approach the final qualifying hurdle.

Marsden’s availability in attack is vital, having posted four goals and 18 points, and injury concerns eased this week when he took part in full training.

A winner-takes-all issue, the stakes are attractively sharpened for the final qualifying round as rivals make the push for the important sudden-death rounds.

With the Championship moving ever more clearly into the focus of players, managements and those of their supporters, a place in the league quarter-finals carries certain clout. As a platform for competitive preparation in the knockout arena, with the potential for national title honours, the play-offs are valued grounding before the All-Ireland campaign begins.

“It’s the same ethos,” says Armagh’s team spokesman Patrick Nugent.

“You either do it on the day or not, and as Championship preparation the play-offs stages of the league are good preparation.”

Armagh need a draw from Celtic Park, Derry nothing short of victory, with two points needed to leap-frog their provincial opponents to go through from Section B with Donegal. “It is an all or nothing game for both of us.

Derry need to win, we want to win, and it would be madness to go into a game like this looking for a draw,” said Nugent.

“A draw doesn’t come into it for us. It is such an important game for both counties, with not only a place in the play-offs at stake, but a place in Division One, where everyone wants to be, up for grabs as well.”

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AWAY days, lost points. Down must apply the brake pads to their onroad troubles if they are to keep their NFL title hopes going tomorrow in Elphin.

After suffering a couple of key match punctures in Wicklow and Clare, the squeeze is on for a win at Roscommon.

A weekend of crunch games as the league speeds towards the lucrative play-off rounds, Peter McGrath’s side are one of five Ulster teams in the shake-up for quarter-final places.

Donegal are already home and dry, with the finishing touches to be applied in London, while Down, Derry, Armagh, Monaghan and Tyrone are pitching for knockout spots. After stalling in the shooting gallery against Dublin, there is a last chance on offer for Tyrone to qualify when they take on Eamonn McEneaney’s young and promising Monaghan outfit in Omagh.

A poor day at the office allowed the Dubs to take the points in the last round, while Monaghan fell under Kerry’s spell a fortnight after an excellent win over Tommy Carr’s transitional team.

Monaghan are still snapping on the heels of the hunt for quarter-final qualification, a point behind Tyrone and surprise but impressive challengers Sligo in Section C. Offaly have already secured their place from this group.

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