A GAA footballer has pleaded guilty to assaulting another player and breaking his nose after a match last summer.
James Cummins (28) of Woodstock, Ballindine pleaded guilty to assaulting Kiltimagh footballer Darragh Sloyan after a GAA match at the Davitts GAA grounds in Ballindine on June 12 of last year.
Cummins had been given a straight red card earlier in the match between Davitts and Kiltimagh for an elbow to the face of one of Mr Sloyan’s teammates. Mr Sloyan and Cummins exchanged words on the pitch after the sending-off.
After the match, Mr Sloyan confronted Cummins about the earlier incident to which Cummins replied; “Look at the scoreboard”. Davitts had won the game by three points.
Mr Sloyan then replied; “What does it matter when you are looking from the sideline?”.
Players were shaking hands after the match when Cummins punched Mr Sloyan in the nose, knocking him to the ground with a broken nose. Mr Sloyan needed two operations to have the damage to his nose repaired and he missed 18 weeks of work.
Cummins offered a sum of €3,000 in damages to the injured party at Castlebar District Court on Friday of last week. Mr Sloyan said he had no choice but to accept the sum as he had missed work due to the incident resulting in a loss in income of approximately €10,000. The GAA paid for medical expenses associated with the assault.
The two had previously spoken on the phone while in Australia when Cummins asked Mr Sloyan for some contact numbers for possible employers and the two had socialised in the past through their respective groups of friends.
Judge Mary Devins said she did not see the difference in an assault on a football pitch and assaults that come before her court that happen late at night in towns across the county. She also said that players needed to have some discipline.
Mr Evan O’Dwyer, solicitor for Mr Cummins, said there was no lingering rivalry between the two clubs as a result of the incident and said the Chairman and Secretary of Davitts, Frank Hyland and Ronan Kirrane, were in court in support of Cummins.
In response Judge Devins said it was inappropriate that GAA officials would accompany just Cummins and not Mr Sloyan and that their presence at Cummins side made her queasy. Both officials left the court room shortly after and did not return for the end of proceedings.
A medical report on the nose break indicated there was a possibility of previous trauma to the nose, however, Mr Sloyan denied he had ever had an issue with his nose prior to the assault.
Mr Sloyan said he would not have made a statement to the Gardai if Cummins had simply apologised within five days of the incident, however, Cummins said he was not aware of this at the time but would have done so.
Judge Devins asked both parties to shake hands in the court, which they did. During the handshake Cummins apologised to which Mr Sloyan replied; “Alright, good man”.
Judge Devins said she did not like to quantify a broken nose in terms of money but said Cummins would need to provide at least €6,000 in damages. Cummins who secured the initial €3,000 from his girlfriend and the Credit Union said he would try to secure the additional money.
The case was adjourned for final sentencing on September 28. The two teams have already met this year; however, Mr Sloyan did not play in the game.
At a previous court appearance it had been indicated that Cummins would be contesting the charge and would have three witnesses while the state were to produce five witnesses. The case was likely to take three hours but Cummins indicated to the Gardaí in the last month that he would be pleading guilty to the charge.