Boys are suspended over violence at soccer match
Two pupils from Boys’ Model School have been suspended this week following their involvement in pitchside violence that overshadowed “one of the best played match finals in the Schools’ Cup’s history”.
Last Thursday, St Mary’s Christian Brothers’ Grammar School in west Belfast narrowly won the NI Schools’ Cup Final 4-3 by a late penalty at Lisburn Distillery grounds in Ballyskeagh.
However, scenes of jubilation quickly turned ugly with some supporters and players getting |involved in hooligan antics that led to police being called in.
James Keith, headmaster of Belfast Boys’ Model School, said both 15-year-olds that were suspended this week had shown remorse and are planning to go to St Mary’s to apologise for their |actions.
Mr Keith said: “Some of our pupils need to understand that there is a lot to be learned by losing.
“I have played sport for many, many years and we shake hands on the pitch and learn more sometimes in defeat than in victory.”
Both schools are now planning a friendly match in order to build bridges.
Trouble had started on the pitch, with verbal exchanges between players and supporters leading to violence in front of the main stand.
Mr Sheerin, principal of St Mary’s, said he had called the |police after the fighting stopped because there was still an intimi- dating atmosphere.
“There were a number of men who were still quite agitated and they were shouting threats that they were going to wait on people, perhaps to take up arms again,” said Mr Sheerin.
“It was quite persistent, it was quite intimidating, so that is why I decided to call the police.”
Mr Sheerin said his team had played Boys’ Model on several |occasions before without any |trouble.
Stephen Blevins, chairman of the Northern Ireland Schools Football Association, said the trouble had tarnished what was otherwise a thrilling senior final.
He said he was extremely disappointed and that an investigation was now under way.
“The events overshadowed what was a wonderful footballing occasion,” Mr Blevins said.
“The Belfast District Secondary Schools FA and the Northern Ireland Schools FA strongly condemn the actions of a mindless minority. The district association will meet shortly to hear representation from the referee and the schools.
“They will also consider television footage before taking any relevant disciplinary action.
“Belfast finals have been played on St Patrick's Day for many years without any previous concerns,” said Mr Blevins.