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Police probe following mass brawl at Ballymena v Warrenpoint Irish Cup match

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Warrenpoint Town and Ballymena United brawl as the Irish Cup tie at Milltown ends in melee. Credit: BBC

Warrenpoint Town and Ballymena United brawl as the Irish Cup tie at Milltown ends in melee. Credit: BBC

Mark Byrne

Mark Byrne

Warrenpoint Town and Ballymena United brawl as the Irish Cup tie at Milltown ends in melee. Credit: BBC

Police have launched an investigation into an alleged assault after a brawl broke out at the end of an Irish Cup match in Co Down.

Players, spectators and stewards were involved in the incident which happened at the end of Saturday's Ballymena United win over Warrenpoint Town.

Trouble flared at Warrenpoint's Milltown ground on the Upper Dromore Road in the final stages of Ballymena United's 2-1 victory.

The incident occurred shortly after Ballymena's winning goal during injury time when a fence collapsed and fans spilled on to the field.

Writing in the Sunday Life, Steven Beacom described the "mayhem at Milltown" after Warrenpoint Town goalkeeper Mark Byrne "jumped into the Ballymena United supporters behind his goal".

"Punches were thrown, people were injured, players and management from both teams ran to calm the craziness down," the sports journalist wrote. "A part of the fence Byrne scaled collapsed in the fracas, causing even more concern for safety and faces of adults and children filled with fear and horror watched on in other sections of the ground."

The incident has been compared to the infamous night 25 years ago when Eric Cantona, then playing for Manchester United, jumped into the crowd at Crystal Palace to attack a supporter who was giving him abuse as he walked to the tunnel after being shown a red card.

The brawl broke out the day after the Northern Ireland Football League released a statement highlighting fan behaviour. The 12 Irish Premiership clubs agreed to take measures to tackle a recent rise in alleged incidents of "unacceptable spectator behaviour".

A PSNI spokesman said: "Police have received a report of an assault at the Upper Dromore Road area of Warrenpoint on Saturday afternoon. Enquiries are continuing."

An Irish Football Association spokesman said: "We are awaiting the referee's report. We will be investigating."

Belfast Telegraph