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GAA star takes down armed raider with timely tackle

A GAA star used his tackling skills to bring down an armed raider who had just terrorised two women at a shop and was making his getaway with a sum of money.

Offaly midfielder Neville Coughlan, who played football and hurling at inter-county level, tackled one of two men, wearing balaclavas, who had threatened and held up two female staff at the Gala store in Geashill, Co Offaly, at about 7.45pm last night.

The two men, both in their 20s, had forced the two women to lie on the floor, while brandishing a knife.

Mr Coughlan told the Irish Independent that as he drove up to the store his suspicions were raised as he spotted a man with what appeared to be a balaclava and hoody leaving the shop.

"A woman shouted out to me 'We are after being robbed, we are after being robbed'. He was headed in a jog down towards Geashill village," said Mr Coughlan, who started sprinting after him.

"He didn't see me coming, I grabbed his arms and pinned him up against the building. He gave a bit of a struggle and the money bag burst open, so there were notes flowing a little bit around the streets," said Mr Coughlan, who joined the Defence Forces in 2006.

"I pinned him down to the ground. I was giving signals to a guy at the traffic lights."

Mr Coughlan, who retired from county football in 2009, said he then swiftly explained to the driver that the man had carried out a robbery.

"He jumped on with me after I explained the robbery. Just as I was getting him settled he started to say he had another guy with him. He made a good go at trying to get us off him."

The robber then wriggled one hand free and grabbed a knife from his trousers.

"We rolled him over enough so I could squeeze my hand in and grabbed the knife and threw it down the road."

They detained the raider for a number of minutes until gardai, called by Mr Coughlan's girlfriend, arrived.

"I wasn't worried about my safety I have self defence training from the Defence Forces and we learn how to take weapons off people," he said. "If the same thing happened tomorrow and happened the same way I'd probably do it again."

The second man fled in a getaway car but was arrested in nearby Portarlington. Both men were being held at Tullamore garda station.

A knife and all of the money taken has been recovered.

Belfast Telegraph