Northern Ireland news

Mass brawl in tunnel overshadows Tyrone's win over All-Ireland champions Dublin

Just one player was punished with a black card after the half-time break for the scuffles during the interval. Picture by RTÉ
John Monaghan

TYRONE and Dublin's senior footballers renewed hostilities on Saturday, when a brawl in the tunnel overshadowed the Red Hands' three point win over the All-Ireland champions in Omagh.

TV cameras showed punches being traded as teams and officials jostled each other as they made their way down the tunnel at the interval.

The Allianz National Football League match was played in challenging weather conditions, having passed a pitch inspection just 40 minutes before throw-in.

It brought back memories of the so-called 'Battle of Omagh' in 2006, when referee Paddy Russell sent off four players during a match he later described as "frightening". He said it was so serious he considered abandoning the game and came close to retiring as a result.

On Saturday, Tyrone's Pádraig Hampsey was the only individual singled out for punishment for the scuffle, being shown a black card after the break.

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell said: "All I will say is that we came up here to play football and that was needless what happened at half-time.

'We came up here to play football' - Farrell appears to point finger at Tyrone over tunnel row

"I could not see it. There were a hundred people in the tunnel ahead of me.”

Tyrone boss Mickey Harte said he believed his team had "served our punishment" with the black card.

“I didn’t see too much, there were just a lot of bodies in a confined space. Maybe that was a good thing, that nobody could get doing any damage to each other.

“We were the only ones who lost a man at half-time at all. I think we’ve served our punishment,” he added.

RTÉ pundit Colm O'Rourke said it was "not just handbags".

"There is a lot of punches being thrown in there. I'd say there will be a lot of fellas with sore jaws tomorrow," he remarked during the half-time coverage.

"Dublin and Tyrone don't like each other very much and that is really serious stuff," he added.

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