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Man killed over Liverpool Everton football row

Irish police are expecting to make an early breakthrough in their inquiries into the death of a man during a heated argument over the televised Premier League derby clash between Liverpool and Everton.

Brian 'Brier' Doyle (48) was believed to have been punched in the face outside Fitzgerald's pub at Main Street, Avoca, Co Wicklow, after he and another customer had stepped outside to smoke a cigarette.

Gardai believe that one punch was thrown and bachelor Mr Doyle fell to the ground and sustained a serious injury to his head.

A post mortem was being carried out last night by the Deputy State Pathologist, Khalid Jabbar, and it was expected to determine whether Mr Doyle had died from hitting his head on the ground.

The examination will also establish if he was struck by a car while lying on the ground.

The incident took place shortly before 9pm on Sunday after the two men had earlier been in a crowd of customers watching the game on television. The two were understood to be rival soccer fans.

Mr Doyle, who was single, lived at Kilmagig, a short distance from the pub, which was well known to TV viewers from the BBC series, 'Ballykissangel'.

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His body was found on the ground shortly afterwards by a female passer-by.

Garda Supt Pat Ward said yesterday that the emergency services had attempted to resuscitate Mr Doyle but he was pronounced dead at around 9.45pm.

He said the incident was "a tragedy for Avoca and for the people in it" and while gardai had spoken to a number of people, who had been in the pub at the time, they were anxious to trace others to interview them.

Gardai said last night they were following a definite line of inquiry.

Supt Ward said they were anxious to talk to anyone who was in the pub from about 3pm onwards until about 10pm or 10.30pm, particularly those who might have any information about the events leading up to the incident, either inside or outside the pub.

Gardai also asked motorists, who travelled through the village at the time of the incident to contact them at either Avoca or Arklow stations, or on the confidential line, 1800 666111.

The area was immediately sealed off after the incident and Mr Doyle's body remained outside the pub overnight until Dr Jabbar arrived to take a preliminary look around lunch- time.

Garda experts from the technical bureau carried out tests on the wheels of a van, which was parked on the roadside, a short distance from Fitzgerald's pub.

The dead man was a regular customer in the pub and walked the short distance to his home each evening. He had been drinking there with friends on Sunday and was described by locals as "harmless".

In June 2003, two teenage schoolfriends, Stephanie McAuley (15) and Vanessa Byrne (13) died after they were struck by a tractor, yards from where Sunday night's incident took place, after buying sweets in a nearby shop.

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