A man who threw a banana at Manchester City footballer Gael Clichy was racially motivated and there could have been no lower taunt than if he had gone out on the pitch and "behaved like a monkey", a judge has said.
There was public outrage after the French international player tweeted about the incident following the glamour tie between the Premier League champions and Limerick FC at Thomond Park last August.
Kelvin Reynolds (20), of Pinewood Avenue, Caherdavin, was given 240 hours of community service in lieu of a jail term at Limerick District Court.
Judge Eugene O'Kelly said he had no doubt that the 20-year-old father was racially motivated and said he had caused extraordinary damage to Limerick's sporting reputation.
Reynolds, who the court heard is a Manchester United fan, pleaded guilty to engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace at Thomond Park on August 5, 2012. He also admitted assaulting Sgt Caimin Treacy, at whom he threw a 7 Up bottle on the same date.
The judge said he found it extraordinary that Reynolds, a junior soccer player, did not know the significance of the piece of fruit he had thrown, adding that Gael Clichy was "entitled to be upset".
"He must be well aware, particularly as he supports the rival Manchester team, of the significant racial implication of a banana," he said.
Judge O'Kelly said bananas were banned from most English soccer grounds and said Clichy would not have resorted to social media if he hadn't been upset by what had happened.
He said he found it hard to believe that Reynolds' action was not racially motivated.
Reynolds' solicitor, Sarah Ryan, said her client, who has 65 previous convictions, was extremely sorry. She said he had a few drinks, picked up a banana but insisted if it was an an apple or an orange he would have thrown that instead.
After hearing that Reynolds' brother had recently secured trials with Manchester United, the judge said it was ironic that "one brother is doing himself and the city proud securing trials for Manchester United, while the other is behaving in this disgusting way".