Referee allegedly assaulted during U-17 gaelic football game speaks out after hospital release – Irish Mirror Online

    The referee who was allegedly assaulted during a Gaelic football match has said how he is “trying to deal” with his health while the gaa investigates the incident.

    kevin naughton was officiating an under-17 match at ballyforan in roscommon between home team st aidan’s and st dominic’s when he required medical attention following an incident during the game, which was abandoned as a result, on wednesday night.

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    The referee was home last night recovering after being released from the hospital.

    when contacted by the irish mirror by phone, mr. Naughton told us, “Health-wise, I’m trying to deal with it right now, but I won’t say any more.”

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    “I will not make any statement at this time. I appreciate the call, but I am not prepared to say anything in any medium at this time.”

    the incident occurred within 30 seconds of the second half, where mr. Naughton, who is highly respected in the county, was approached by a man who entered the field from the sideline.

    it is believed that mr. Naughton red-carded the individual, who is not a player, before he fell to the ground after allegedly being assaulted.

    The referee was treated earlier by medical personnel and was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure.

    although images of the victim on the ground went viral, no images of the altercation that led to mr. naughton to need treatment.

    The referee clann na ngael’s own club in athlone did not respond to inquiries last night.

    However, local independent td denis naughten, who supports the same club, recounted how he and others who know the referee were stunned by the news.

    The politician told us: “I think it has surprised us all that something like this happens.

    “I know Kevin Naughton, he’s a neighbor of mine. He’s always seemed like a very fair referee to me.

    “The reality is that it is not an easy job to be a referee in this country and it is important that they are given due respect regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the decisions they make.”

    “I think the gaa should conduct a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding this.”

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    roscommon gaa confirmed that their competition control committee will investigate the incident while staidan’s conducts its own investigation and will assist the county’s.

    the irish mirror understands that the ccc will then deliver a report to gaa headquarters, who will make a recommendation to the county on what sanction should be implemented.

    A county spokesman said: “Roscommon Gaa is aware of an incident involving a referee during an underage match at Ballyforan on Wednesday night.

    “We would like to wish the referee involved in this incident a speedy recovery.

    “roscommon gaa strongly condemns any behavior that puts any of our referees at risk.

    “the ccc will launch a full investigation into the incident

    “we will not comment further at this time”.

    while a statement from st aidan’s said: “st aidan’s gaa club is investigating an incident that occurred during an under-17 championship match on our club grounds on Wednesday night.”

    “First of all, our thoughts are with the referee and we wish him a speedy recovery. We would also like to thank the medical staff who assisted him after the incident.”

    “the club will co-operate fully with the roscommon ccc and roscommon gaa in their investigation into the matter.”

    “we will not comment further at this time”.

    gardai said he was aware of the footage and was investigating.

    But sources said last night that if the referee makes a statement to gardai, it could escalate into an assault causing harm investigation.

    and a source added: “every person who was present could potentially be treated as a witness.

    “and if it were to progress, gardai would seek to speak to every person present on the field who attended the game.”

    “They would also look for cctv if there is one, or images recorded by the teams themselves, or of people who were watching the game.”

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    one of the country’s top referees, david gough, last night called the incident “terrifying”.

    and told the irish mirror: “it’s also an assault. and if it happened in the street or anywhere outside the white lines of the football pitch, it would be investigated by the gardai. it’s a serious assault.”

    He has never personally been physically assaulted refereeing a game, but he has been verbally abused.

    But he insists that the spotlight must be shifted to the perpetrator in the case.

    He said “we have to look at the perpetrator. the only thing the media is concentrating on is the referee, the referee is the headline. there is nothing to say whoever carried this out caused that a referee was knocked out. the focus is on the wrong person.”

    the chief intercounty umpire, from slane in co meath, said how the incident has the potential to become a “defining moment”, but said he did not know if the gaa would react the way it should.

    said, “very often they go out and make a statement about it.”

    “they will not condone the behavior, they will offer their full support to the referee and will state that they always support the referees and have zero tolerance for abuse by match officials.”

    “but knowing the gaa, they’ll go into survival mode and have the communications department trying to, I guess, lessen the media damage in the next few days.”

    “and the story will go to an inter-county manager who will be appointed to a new position at the end of the week. and the story is often forgotten.”

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