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Alleged assault by adult on underage player

A SHANNON couple have contacted Gearóid Ó Maoilmhichíl, the GAA national children’s officer in Croke Park, in relation to an incident involving their son at an underage game in Clare last August.

In a tournament organised by the gardaí, Seán and Valerie O’Callaghan allege that their then 13-year-old son was hit by an adult, following an altercation between him and an opposing player. The altercation involving the two players led to their son receiving a red card, which the parents say they have no issue with.

“Our son got a red card. As he was walking away, a man ran onto the pitch and punched my son in the back of the head and hit him in the eye. Kyle was on the ground. Gardaí and parents then went onto the pitch,” Mrs O’Callaghan explained. Their son later received medical treatment following the incident.

The matter was referred by gardaí to the DPP, who confirmed about six weeks ago that the matter will not be pursued through the courts.

“We got a letter from the DPP that they were waiting on reports from the gardaí and that our son was a candidate for the Juvenile Diversion Scheme and that the other party was to receive an adult caution. That was the recommendation, while our son received an informal caution,” Mr O’Callaghan explained.

The parents were contacted by Shannon gardaí in relation to the informal caution.

“We got a phone call on a Thursday evening at 5pm to go down for the informal caution. We had no time to go to our solicitor. We did it like sheep, instead of questioning it. The garda in Shannon said they had to rush it through because come the following Tuesday, the six months would have been up and they wouldn’t have been able to issue the caution,” Mrs O’Callagan explained.

Mr O’Callaghan sought information from Clare GAA on how they proposed to handle the issue.

“I sent numerous emails to the county GAA secretary, Pat Fitzgerald, requesting information as to what disciplinary action would be taken. I received an email back stating that they had been in contact with the gardaí and that they were waiting on the outcome of the file that had been sent to the DPP.

“In April, I contacted GAA headquarters and I spoke to the children’s officer, Gearóid Ó Maoilmhichíl. I then sent him an email outlining the situation. About a week later, he got back to me and told me he had contacted the Clare GAA juvenile officer, who was unaware of it. However, he found that other county officials were aware of it and were making enquiries,” Mr O’Callaghan said, adding that the couple are still awaiting news on how the GAA will deal with the issue.

By Peter O’Connell

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