A footballer charged with breaking an opponent’s jaw will have to wait until January to find out whether he is going to be convicted or not.
In the District Court in Athlone this week (December 4 ) was Keith Moore (26 ), of Valley Bungalows, Mullingar who pleaded not guilty to a Section 3 charge of assault causing harm.
It is alleged that at half time in a division three league match between Mullingar Shamrocks and Moate All Whites in Hogan Park, Moate on May 31, 2012 the Mullingar defender struck home full forward Niall Mackey in the face, breaking his jaw in two places, and knocking out a number of teeth.
In his evidence, Mr Mackey claimed he was punched at half time after he remonstrated with Moore over the latter’s behaviour towards some of Mr Mackey’s younger teammates.
He told Judge Seamus Hughes that the atmosphere in the game up til then had been: “Just normal fouling and that”, but as the two teams headed towards their respective huddles, Moore brushed off Mr Mackey before throwing the punch.
“I knew it was bad when I could put my tongue through the split in my teeth,” said Mr Mackey.
He spent the next five nights in Tullamore, and St James’s hospitals, had two plates inserted into his face, was off week for four weeks, and was still seeing his dentist.
His solicitor, Mr Brian O’Brien confirmed they would be also pursuing civil proceedings into the matter.
Defending solicitor, Mr Eddie Tynan, contested Mr Mackey’s version of events, and put it to him that he had “run after Mr Moore before he got to the dug-out ... and he turned round and saw you coming at him with your arms raised, and that he hit you in self-defence. If you had gone your own way this wouldn’t have happened”.
However, both parties only had teammates to support their positions, and Judge Hughes pointed out “at the end of the day, Mr Tynan, a multiplicity of numbers won’t impress me”.
He noted “an absence of impartial witnesses” and discovered that, despite the referee’s match report being handed in, none of the match officials were giving evidence.
At one stage the judge refused to believe one defence witness who claimed he called for reinforcements from the dugout rather than sprint to the melee “like I’ve seen in a thousand GAA games” after the witness accused Mr Markey of pushing Moore in the back.
“I find you a most discreditable witness. Don’t come up and tell me a tissue of lies from one side,” said the judge.
“GAA isn’t played like that. They just go and get involved, and if you think otherwise, Mr Tynan, you’re watching a different game,” he added, before enquiring if there had been any sanctioned mediation between the parties in this issue.
When Mr Tynan told him “there isn’t such recourse in the GAA”, the judge let it be known he might be amenable to deal with the case by way of “an ex gratia payment without prejudice”, and adjourned for five minutes to allow both parties mediate.
On return, Mr Tynan told him that they were “90 per cent down the road” towards a settlement.
On hearing this, the judge adjourned a final decision until January 15.
“When all is said and done I would like to see a handshake,” he concluded.