Teacher Michael Friel appeared at Letterkenny District Court charged with a Section 3 assault causing harm to Laurence McMullan at Convoy GAA pitch.
The accused was playing for Naomh Colmcille from Newtowncunningham against rivals Naomh Mhuire from Convoy in Convoy on August 19th, 2017.
Filmed footage of the game and specifically the incident was repeatedly playing during the case.
With six minutes of the game left, player/manager of St Mary’s, Mr McMullan surged forward but was surrounded by a number of Naomh Colmcille players.
One of the players was Friel, aged 25, who it is alleged grabbed Mr McMullan by the testicles.
Mr McMullan can be seen going to ground, speaking to the referee but carrying on playing for the remaining six minutes of the game.
At the end of the game he is seen on his knees being attended to by other players and officials.
He later received medical treatment at Letterkenny University Hospital for a laceration to his scrotum.
In his evidence Mr McMullan told of the encounter and how he felt a sharp sting in his testicles but thought it was just a bad scrape and managed to play on.
However, at the end of the game he put his hands down his shorts and realised he was bleeding and was taken to hospital.
A medical report showed that Mr McMullan had suffered a 7 centimetre laceration to his scrotum and had to received 8 stitches to the wound.
He said he felt very uncomfortable, and it took a month after the incident for the pain and healing to stop.
A report from the consultant in the hospital said that Mr McMullan had suffered a laceration after another player had accidentally grabbed him by the scrotum.
However, the victim said that he never used the word ‘accidentally’ and this must have been used by the medical consultant.
Barrister for the accused, Mr Peter Nolan instructed by solicitor Frank Dorrian, put it to Mr McMullan that this was merely an accident in the ‘rough and tumble’ of the game and that the injury was minor.
Mr McMullan said he had been playing GAA for 30 years, had been intentionally injured before and felt the accused had intentionally meant to injure him on this occasion.
Tackle for the ball
The court was told that Friel had sent Mr McMullan a text the following day apologising, saying he didn’t realise where he was grabbing him and that he never intentionally meant to hurt him.
Giving evidence, Friel, of Millview, Keshends, Newtowncunningham, said that he acknowledged causing the injury but stressed that it was unintentional.
Cross-examining Friel, Garda Inspector Paul McHugh said there was no attempt to tackle for the ball as Mr McMullan had the ball at chest level when the accused made contact with the victim’s scrotum.
“How can you say you made every attempt to get ball, are we watching the same thing at all?” asked Inspector McHugh.
In reply Friel said it may not have been the best tackle but it was an attempt.
Barrister Peter Nolan made an application for the case to be struck out saying the State had failed to prove the level of proof required adding that this was a sporting situation.
He added those going out ono the pitch had to accept there was a certain level of risk and that this was not an incident which had happened after a game in a tunnel which had happened before.
He added that his client never went out onto the pitch with any intention to hurt Mr McMullan.
He said the best course of action was that the case be left for ‘civil remedy’ noting that civil proceedings in the case had been lodged in the High Court.
However, Inspector Paul McHugh said there was no onus on the prosecution to prove that Friel went onto the pitch to intentionally hurt Mr McMullan.
He added it was clear that his testicles were grabbed and pulled and that he did not see this as “accidental contact.”
“A person was assaulted and a person was caused harm,” he added.
Judge Ms Éiteáin Cunningham said she was satisfied the accused had a case to meet.
Having heard further representations she said she was reserving her judgement in the case until September 19th.