Northern Ireland news

Co Down GAA footballer convicted of breaking opponent's jaw during on-pitch assault

Ronan Campbell

A CO Down GAA footballer has been convicted of an on-pitch assault during which an opponent's jaw was broken.

Ronan Campbell (19), of Greencastle Pier Road in Kilkeel, pleaded not guilty to a charge of causing grievous bodily harm on July 29, 2018.

The assault took place during a game between An Riocht and Drumgath.

Pearse McPolin, was punched in the face by Campbell as he was looking the opposite direction down the pitch.

The injured player was taken to Daisy Hill Hospital where a break to the left side of his jaw was diagnosed.

He was later transferred to the Ulster hospital to be treated for other facial injuries including a chipped tooth.

Despite Campbell's denials District judge Eamonn King said he satisfied the assault had occurred.

Saying he viewed the events as a “serious matter” the judge remarked on the weekend's All Ireland GAA semi finals which “displayed the true spirit of the game”.

“If you enjoy watching GAA, as I do, if you saw the GAA football semi finals over the weekend, you would have seen a thrilling and engaging sport,” said Mr King at Newry Magistrates Court.

“You saw a game where skills were used to win the game, no malice or cheating.

“You would probably like to see yourself some day in Croke Park in front of 80 thousand people and be the best you can be.

“Punching someone has no place in Gaelic football.

“If it was you, who had been punched, you and your family would be requiring a police investigation and justice.

“But for your age, you would be in the crown court, where the penalty you would be facing would be much higher," he said.

“I hope you never darken the doors of the court again,” added the magistrate.

Campbell was fined £500 and ordered to pay an offender’s levy.

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