Northern Ireland news

Down GAA star Caolan Mooney hospitalised hours after McKenna Cup victory following early morning assault in Newry

Down's Caolan Mooney in action during the BOI Dr McKenna Cup Section B Round 1 between Fermanagh and Down at Brewster Park Enniskillen 0n 12-29-2019. Pic Philip Walsh

DOWN senior footballer Caolan Mooney was in hospital on Monday night following an assault after the team returned from Sunday's McKenna Cup win over Fermanagh.

The 26-year-old was outside Newry’s Canal Court Hotel when he sustained the head injuries, with an ambulance summoned to Merchants Quay with a 999 call at 2.30am.

The ambulance service said a crew took the injured man to nearby Daisy Hill Hospital. The Irish News understands that fears of a possible bleed on his brain led to the former Aussie Rules player being transferred to Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital. Last night a Belfast health trust spokesman said his condition is “stable”. Police confirmed they are “investigating an assault in the Merchants Quay area in Newry”.

The Rostrevor footballer, who is a personal trainer, had been in good spirits a short time before the assault. He posted a picture of himself during the match on his social media accounts a couple of hours earlier, saying ‘Season 2020 kicking off in 2019 makes sense to me’ and exchanging jokey tweets with former county goalkeeper Niall Kane.

Down manager Paddy Tally said everyone is praying for his recovery.

“We’re shocked and saddened that Caolan has been hospitalised, and we understand that a criminal investigation is under way,” he said.

“Given the seriousness of the situation, we ask people to refrain from speculation or rumour about the incident. Caolan is a very important player and important leader in our team. He is vice-captain, he had an excellent year this year and we’re looking forward to him being back playing in Down colours as soon as possible. We hope and pray that he makes a full recovery and our thoughts are with his fiancée and his entire family at this time. Their welfare and their right to privacy should be fully respected.”

Police said a 37-year-old man has been charged with affray and attempted grievous bodily harm with intent in connection with an assault on two men aged 26 and 32 in the Merchant’s Quay area of Newry in the early hours of yesterday morning. He is due to appear at Armagh Magistrates’ Court this morning.

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