Man released on bail after GAA match stabbing

Two match officials sustained wounds in a subsequent stabbing incident.

A 42-year-old man arrested after a referee and an umpire were injured during a stabbing at a GAA match in Co Tyrone has been released on police bail to allow for further enquiries.

The umpire required hospital treatment following the attack at Paddy Cullen Park in Cookstown on Thursday evening.

It is understood the referee had just finished officiating a game between Cookstown Father Rocks under-16s and Fintona Pearses under-16s when he was approached by a man, prompting the umpire to intervene.

Both officials sustained wounds in a subsequent stabbing incident.

It is understood the injured umpire has since been released from hospital.

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has condemned the incident.

Chief executive of Ulster GAA Brian McAvoy extended his thoughts to the injured men.

“I have been involved in the GAA for over 50 years and never known anything like this and anyone I have spoken to today has never known anything like it either, so it seems to be a first and hopefully a last,” he told the PA news agency.

“Our thoughts go out to the referee and umpire who were injured in the incident.

“It’s a traumatic time for them and also for the two young teams. This attack happened in front of children and that can’t be lost. It’s unacceptable that it happens at all, but it’s magnified when it happens in front of children.

“I know the Tyrone County Board in conjunction with the two clubs have initiated support mechanisms for any aftermath that they may have suffered.”

The GAA issued a statement of condemnation.

“The GAA condemns in the strongest terms possible the incident that marred an underage game in Tyrone last night leaving two people injured,” it said.

“As an organisation we have a duty of care to protect our volunteer officials and the events that unfolded in Cookstown are totally unacceptable.

“We will work with the PSNI and our units, at both county and club level, to establish the facts around what occurred, and, in the meantime, we extend our best wishes to those who were injured in the incident.

“Any support required for our underage players and members will be provided.”

In a statement Tyrone GAA said: “Tyrone GAA are aware of an incident which occurred at one of our underage fixtures on the evening of Thursday 6 July.

“Tyrone GAA shall conduct our own investigation into the circumstances. As the organising body, we treat this incident most seriously, and will be offering our support to those affected. We can make no further comment at this time.”

Both clubs involved in the game said support was being provided to their young players and supporters.

Fintona Pearses GAC said: “Our thoughts are with those impacted and all focus is on the welfare of the children and young people present.”

Michelle O’Neill
Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill described the incident as shocking (PA)

The Cookstown Fr Rocks club said: “The committee will now work to ensure that children and young people who witnessed this disturbing and very serious incident have the support and assistance that they require in the coming days.”

Sinn Fein’s vice president Michelle O’Neill said it was a “shocking incident”.

“My thoughts are with those injured and impacted,” she tweeted.

“Anyone with any information should assist with police inquiries.”

Ms O’Neill commended the work to assist and support the young people who were at the game.

SDLP MLA Justin McNulty, a former GAA all-Ireland championship winner, expressed shock.

“The GAA is at the heart of so many communities the length and breadth of Ireland and people will be horrified at what has taken place here,” he said.

“Spectators, players and officials should be able to attend and participate in matches without being subjected to something like this.

“My thoughts are with the two men who were injured and I hope they make a quick and full recovery. I’m also concerned about the young players and spectators who will have witnessed this incident.

“I trust and know that the GAA locally will do everything they can to support those who’ve been impacted to help them to overcome what must have been a very frightening and traumatic experience.”

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