GAA bosses in Tyrone have ordered an inquiry after a referee and a senior county official were knocked unconscious when violence flared at the end of a women's football final.
The investigation was launched after both men were attacked and had to be stretchered off the field shortly after the final whistle blew at the ladies' senior final between St Macartan's and Carrickmore at Beragh, Co Tyrone.
Towards the end of Friday night’s match, referee Simon Brady made a decision that awarded a free to Augher-based St Macartans’ who then scored a point and went on to win the game.
Spectators then moved on to the pitch where ugly scenes erupted. Mr Brady was punched before Tyrone ladies football chairman Martin Conway was hit when he tried to intervene.
Mr Brady, a 43-year-old father-of-two, told the Irish News he turned to shake the hand of a club manager when he was hit in the face and knocked to the ground.
He was treated at the Erne Hospital, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, for bruising and swelling to his face. He said: “I was checking my score card to make sure everything was in order. I got a tap on the shoulder from one of the managers wanting to shake my hand and that is the last thing I remember.”
Mr Brady told the Irish News: “Apparently I was hit. My understanding is that it was a spectator. I woke up maybe five minutes later. I was frightened. I didn't know what had happened. All I knew was I was lying on the ground and it was wet and cold.
“I wasn't even aware Martin Conway had been hit by another individual when he came to help me.”
He added: “It is absolutely shameful that this sort of thing has happened. I am a volunteer in what is a pretty tough job and one that can feel very lonely at times. There's a lot of shock. I believe it is the most serious incident that has ever happened, at least in Tyrone football.”
It’s understood two different individuals, allegedly Carrickmore supporters, were involved in the violence. The Tyrone Ladies County Board condemned the assaults and said it has launched a full investigation.
Carrickmore said it is also carrying out an investigation into the allegations of violence and St Macartan’s declined to comment.
Retired referee and Tyrone development officer Michael Hughes called the violence a very “isolated incident” that didn’t do the family friendly reputation of the sport any good.
A PSNI spokesman said one person had reported one of the attacks to them this morning.