A melee at a football match saw one of the players being punched by a spectator – Cork goalkeeper Chris Kelly - at the match and he had to be taken away in an ambulance with a broken nose and dental damage.
Chris Kelly of Kilumney, Ovens, County Cork, pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing harm to Sam Cronin at Mallow GAA, Carrigoon, Mallow, County Cork, on June 9 2019. He got a suspended two-year sentence at Cork Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin noted that 23-year-old Kelly had no previous convictions and was not in any trouble since and had been suspended from playing with the GAA for a period of 12 months afterwards.
The victim impact statement was not read out in court at the sentencing hearing. However, Judge Ó Donnabháin said that the injured party who was taken away after the match in an ambulance expressed disappointment that the defendant’s club, Éire Óg, did not reach out to the injured party or his club afterwards to see if he was alright.
“It does not say a lot about the collegiality of the organisation,” Judge Ó Donnabháin remarked.
Elizabeth O’Connell senior counsel for the defendant said Chris Kelly was on the Éire Óg senior panel and was called up for the Cork senior panel also but was suspended for a year. Ms O’Connell said that what occurred was in the moment on the day and was not something that was building up for any length of time.
Chris Kelly brought €15,000 compensation to court for the injured party.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said the injured party suffered significant injuries and a painful and prolonged recovery. He noted there was no animosity between the parties and imposed a two-year sentence, suspended on condition that the defendant would keep the peace and be of good behaviour for two years.
Garda Nicole O’Regan testified that there was a disturbance at 6.30 p.m. on June 9 2019 at the end of the match where there was a melee on the pitch, involving players and others on the sideline and spectators also became involved.
“Initially it was a melee between players but it spread to the sideline and spectators got involved.
“The injured party does not remember much. He remembers going to the sideline and it gets blurry from that. He regained his memory of what occurred (afterwards). He sustained a fractured nose and damaged teeth from the punch and hitting his head on concrete,” Garda O’Regan said.
The defendant was present at the match as a spectator on the day as he was out through injury.