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GAA player fired over alleged bar attack ends unfair sacking claim

By Ryan Nugent

Published 03/10/2015

John Murtagh denied punching a customer in a GAA social club
John Murtagh denied punching a customer in a GAA social club

An All-Ireland winning footballer from Armagh has withdrawn a claim of unfair dismissal against a GAA club after he was sacked amid allegations he repeatedly punched a man in the face.

John Murtagh (32) resolved his case against Parnell GAA Club Ltd yesterday at an Employee Appeals Tribunal in Dublin.

The former Armagh senior footballer admitted he had "seen red" and "accosted" Parnells volunteer Greg Maxwell.

Mr Murtagh, who denied punching Mr Maxwell, had argued that the correct disciplinary procedures had not been followed during his dismissal.

But talks between Mr Murtagh's representatives and those of Parnell GAA Club Ltd resolved the case yesterday morning.

Mr Murtagh declined to comment when he was approached after the hearing.

The tribunal was told that three alleged incident had taken place during the early hours of August 24, 2013.

Mr Murtagh, an under-21 All-Ireland winner, had been working in a bar but remained there after finishing his shift.

He claimed that an initial verbal argument took place when he confronted a patron - Mr Maxwell - who he alleged was harassing a group of women.

The tribunal was told how Mr Murtagh later confronted Mr Maxwell once again and this time allegedly grabbed and pushed him to the floor.

Minutes later Mr Murtagh is alleged to have followed Mr Maxwell into the kitchen.

Another staff member told club management that Mr Maxwell fell to the floor after being repeatedly punched by Mr Murtagh, the tribunal heard.

At the time Mr Maxwell also gave a statement to the bar's general manager, David Feeney, that claimed he had been punched by Mr Murtagh.

Mr Murtagh's solicitor said his client admitted that he "grabbed him (Mr Maxwell), accosted him, but he never punched him or kicked him".

Mr Murtagh claimed that Mr Feeney met him after the incident and told him that if he wrote a letter of apology he would not have to worry about losing his job.

However, Mr Feeney denied this, and said that he had a duty to provide a safe environment for people at the club, adding that Mr Murtagh was fired for gross misconduct.

Mr Murtagh's solicitor argued that his client was not on the premises in a work capacity and asked why disciplinary procedures for social members of the club did not apply.

He argued that the club could not extend employee sanctions to employees who are off-duty.

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