Belfast Telegraph

Probe as violence erupts at schools football showpiece

By Amanda Poole

An investigation is under way after scenes of violence erupted at yesterday's Belfast Schools Cup football final.

Fighting broke out between players from Belfast Boys’ Model School and St Mary's Christian Brothers Grammar School, Belfast, just after the final whistle blew.

St Mary's won the match 4-3 with a last-minute penalty — but as they prepared to accept their trophy, anger spilled over into violence on the pitch.

It quickly spread to sections of the crowd at Lisburn Distillery’s ground in Ballyskeagh, with dozens of people becoming involved in scuffles.

The PSNI was called in to restore order following reports of the disturbance. A police spokeswoman confirmed no complaints have been received but inquiries are ongoing.

One onlooker told the Belfast Telegraph the violence started on the pitch and fans very quickly became involved.

“It was a very good football match, and such a shame it ended in this way,” he said.

“It all happened so quickly. One second the game was finished and the next things just descended into chaos. I would say about 50 people were involved in total.

“The police seemed to be on the scene very quickly indeed and any trouble was dealt with in a quick manner.”

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.”

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