Four Glentoran football supporters arrested when violence broke out at a Setanta Cup clash with Bohemians in Dublin on Saturday were let off with warnings yesterday.
The four were arrested before and during the soccer match in Dublin's Dalymount Park.
Fighting broke out shortly after kick-off and gardai intervened when a Glentoran supporter attempted to erect an Ulster flag at the stadium.
Yesterday four defendants, James Archer (43) of Raden Wood, Belfast, Paul Ritchie (23), of Bracken Ridge, Carrickfergus, Robert Hatty (46), of Penrhyn Park, Co Down, and John Hammond (27), of Lewis Avenue, Belfast, appeared at Dublin District Court.
The four had been held in custody since they were arrested on Saturday evening and pleaded guilty yesterday to Public Order Act charges for being intoxicated to an extent of being a danger to themselves and others and engaging in threatening, insulting and abusive behaviour with intent to cause a breach of the peace.
Garda Eoin Lynch told judge Cormac Dunne that on March 13 Ritchie was seen “running in the middle of the road, up to rival Bohemians fans, gesturing and roaring”.
He added that Ritchie was extremely intoxicated at the time and had been shouting and screaming at up to 40 Bohemians supporters who had been in the area, outside the stadium. Ritchie said he had come to Dublin on “the supporters’ bus, I had been hoping to go home that night”.
Judge Dunne heard that co-defendant Hatty invaded the football pitch after his team scored a goal and was drunk and abusive.
The court was also told that during the Setanta Cup tie, Archer became “abusive and extremely violent to gardai, staff and security working at the venue”. Hammond, sporting a bruised right eye also pleaded guilty to his role in the disturbances.
Judge Dunne said their behaviour was “not the essence of what sport is about” and could not be condoned. But he noted that they had pleaded guilty and had been held in custody since their arrests. Judge Dunne said “soccer hooliganism creates mayhem” but they had suffered the loss of liberty since being arrested.
He applied the Probation Offenders' Act leaving all four without a criminal conviction and warned them that they must behave properly in future.
Two other men, also from Northern Ireland, are due to appear at the Dublin District Court, on Thursday.