IT OCCURS TO ME

The toughest break of all for Donegal's Seamus Coleman

Like so many supporters throughout Ireland and beyond, I winced and looked away as Seamus was horribly tackled by Neil Taylor

By Frank Galligan

Reporter:

By Frank Galligan

Email:

editorial@donegaldemocrat.com

The toughest break of all for Donegal's Seamus Coleman

Seamus Coleman

A few years ago, Manus Boyle said of Seamus Coleman: “Had he stayed playing Gaelic football he’d have won the All-Ireland in 2012. Nobody here held it against him, the fact he was going to play soccer.

Once he got that break he made sure he was going to make the most of it.

“If injuries are kind to him he will still play for Donegal some day. That’s something that’s on his bucket list.”

Eamonn Dunphy, who had described Neil Taylor’s tackle on RTE as “filthy and nasty” subsequently reflected in print that "I'm sure Taylor is full of remorse and “feels terrible about what happened. Some have dredged up a couple of incidents from his past to try and hammer him. But he's a 28-year-old defender who's been playing professionally for a decade.

What defender with that service hasn't been involved in a couple of flashpoints? Give Taylor a break."

Like so many supporters throughout Ireland and beyond, I winced and looked away as Seamus was horribly tackled by Neil Taylor, and I thought how ironic that the kind of breaks alluded to by Manus and Dunphy contrasted cruelly with the break which may sideline him until 2018. However, I’m sure that, notwithstanding the great outpouring of emotion from his supporters, it’s Rachel, Maire, Henry, Stevie and Francie who must have suffered genuine moments of anguish during and after the incident. Thankfully, baby Lilly is yet too young to know of her dad’s plight and having more time to cuddle his beautiful daughter will be some measure of consolation in the difficult months ahead. Seimi is much loved, not just as a tremendous footballer and ambassador, but as I witnessed in Killybegs on a number of occasions, he is genuinely one of the true gentlemen of his sport. As the aforementioned Eamonn Dunphy once reminded us: “Coleman is ‘Pure Donegal’."

GARDAI CAN’T WIN?...OH YES, THEY CAN!

Aidan O’Mahony once played 40 minutes with a broken leg in a club match for Rathmore in Kerry and scored two points! I was naturally thinking of that for a number of reasons earlier this week, but principally because Aidan was the only bit of good news that An Garda Siochana have had in a long while. As you’re no doubt aware (I didn’t watch it myself) he was the winner of RTE’s Dancing With The Stars. Forgive the pun, but not even their most loyal supporter (and I’ve been consistent!) can disagree that those in power have made a ‘right balls’ of the force.

Who prompted the Commissioner (when asked about resigning) to say :“We have to keep the lights on while we’re rewiring the house”? Now, I’m no sparkie, but to do that properly, you need power from an external force. Maybe it’s time that the head of our police force was also from an external source!

The recent revelations are shocking and scandalous. The accountants have taken over; ticking boxes and revenue collecting have become the priorities of middle management and above, and we have witnessed a drip-drip of accountability and derogation of real duty. It reminds me of Fred Logue’s old tractor in Carrigart. I used to watch with fascination as Fred hand cranked the grey Massey Ferguson TE20 on the Barracks Brae. There was nearly a day’s work of sweat done by the time it spluttered, purred and hopped up Umlagh. Knowing you might have to birl it again kept Fred upright and alert on his uncomfortable bucket seat. In contrast, another neighbour had acquired a new FE35, red and grey, with a standard ignition, and his body language was far more leisurely, laid back, cap on the Gortnabrade side of his head and seemed to strut his stuff through the parish of Mevagh while Fred just birled, sweated and worked like a rower on a Viking longboat.

The old guards were like Fred, maybe needing a starting handle in the morning, but you knew that during the course of the day, they would plough their lonely furrows as straight and true as humanly possible. Och ochone, we would appear to have succumbed to the handy ignition, and now we’re content just tipping the cap to the number crunchers. In a way, the guards can’t win...indeed, Aidan O’Mahony’s experience when a trainee garda ten years ago exemplifies this horrible Catch 22 situation for so many rank-and-file members.

In a case in Tralee District Court in 2007, Judge James O’Connor found there was no case against then recruit O’Mahony for an alleged assault on off-duty doorman Damien Casey, the obstruction of Garda Edmund Walsh and two charges for Public Order Act offences.

The judge said the evidence lacked “cohesion and credibility and did not stand up to cross-examination. I have a feeling that if it was Sean Citizen, or Sheila Citizen, there would be no prosecution and we would not be here at all today.” He found it difficult to understand why the charges, which arose from incidents outside a Killarney nightclub early on January 2, 2006, had been brought. He dismissed all four charges. O’Mahony was suspended from the Garda Training College for almost a year pending the outcome of the case but his solicitor Padraig O’Connell said Mr O’Mahony intended to return immediately to the college and that his client had been totally exonerated and was extremely pleased with the decision.

“In my opinion, there was no stateable case to be brought against Mr O’Mahony. It appears his status as a trainee garda and prominent Kerry footballer were contributory factors to the prosecution.” Five doormen and two garda witnesses gave evidence for the prosecution during the three-hour hearing, which also included CCTV footage of crowds on the stairwell of Mustang Sally’s nightclub and crowds on the street. The court heard that up to five doormen were at one time on top of Mr O’Mahony on the street and that he had suffered injuries to the head and face.

Mr O’Mahony said he was dazed and confused after his head was “belted’’ off the pavement and off a wall. Giving his judgment, Judge O’Connor said the State should “very carefully” look at the facts when bringing a case that could involve custodial sentences. The more serious charges brought against O’Mahony of a Section 2 assault and obstruction of a garda each carried six months’ imprisonment, while public order offences carried three months, he pointed out.

He said it was clear from the evidence of the principal witnesses, both doormen, there was no contact made by O’Mahony with anyone. The only evidence was that there had been a swinging action by O’Mahony and he did not believe he had put anyone in a headlock. “There’s not a shred of evidence to convict him of section 2 assault, or of any type of assault,” he added.

He said he felt the doormen took exception to the defendant’s attitude when he questioned them. Three, four or five of them gathered around him and forced him to the ground. “It was a complete over-reaction on the part of the bouncers. It is not a crime to question bouncers. It seems to me the bouncers completely over-reacted and joined in consort against him,” he continued; “For the life of me I don’t know why a section 19 charge (obstructing a garda) was brought. There’s not a shred of evidence to support it.”

The State had not established the evidence needed to convict in any of the charges and the evidence would not even stand up in a civil case where the burden of proof was less, the judge continued. “The evidence points to the fact it was the defendant himself who sustained injuries on two occasions.”

“Mr O’Mahony had been pinned against a wall and while on a footpath had received a gash to the back of his head. “It is obvious he was not the aggressor in these circumstances.”

Dismissing all charges, the judge said the defendant had done nothing legally or morally wrong, had no criminal intent and broke no standard of behaviour. Imagine the extra burden on a serving garda who now has to cope with the yahoos who hate him for being a champion dancer? And by the way, he is a real winner...Five All-Irelands, three NFL’s, 10 Munster Championships, one County Senior Championship, one Senior Club County Championship, one County U21 Championship, one County Intermediate Championship and three All Stars.

If Noirin needs tackling, jiving or skipping lessons, Aidan O’s the man!”