Man arrested after international handball star injured in hit-and-run

Critical: Conall McCavitt (Loughmacrory GAA Handball)
Critical: Conall McCavitt (Loughmacrory GAA Handball)

A young man has been arrested in connection with a hit-and-run incident which has left a handball star in serious condition in hospital.

Conall McCavitt was struck by a car at Cardinal O'Fiaich Square in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh early yesterday morning. 

He was rushed to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment for injuries that were described as serious. He is said to be in critical condition. 

Police investigating the incident said the vehicle involved, believed to be a blue Volkswagen Passat, failed to remain at the scene. It was later recovered from the market area of the town.

The scene of the incident was subsequently closed and motorists were advised to seek alternative routes while police conducted an investigation into the incident.

A 20-year-old man was this morning arrested connection with the incident. He was interviewed and released on bail pending further enquiries. Police said he was arrested on a number of motoring offences.

Slieve Gullion councillor Pete Byrne expressed his sympathy to the hit-and-run victim and his family.

"First of all, my thoughts are with the young fellow and his family, and I really hope he pulls through," he said.

The SDLP councillor told the Belfast Telegraph the area was an accident waiting to happen.

He said the square, which has numerous roads leading onto it, had been a major problem for the town.

"The speed that people drive around the square has been and continues to be a problem," he explained. "People drive like it's a race track at times.

"It was only a matter of time before something like this happened."

Mr Byrne said that councillors had met with police on numerous occasions about cars "rallying round the town" and to discuss the absence of officers at night-time.

"We raised the issue time and time again," councillor Byrne said.

"At night-time, this square can be a free-for-all because there is no police presence. It's a small rural town and the police station is not manned at night.

"It takes the police an hour or an hour-and-a-half to come. It's a nightmare."

"The speed at which people drive around the square, which has pubs and a hotel beside it, means that an accident was inevitable. The police say they are doing their best but they are stretched."

The PSNI are continuing to appeal for information. 

"Inspector Denise Graham is appealing for anyone who was in the centre of Crossmaglen early yesterday morning and who witnessed the collision, or anyone with any information about the movements of the offending car or its occupants following the collision to contact officers in Newry on 101 quoting reference number 488 of 27/12/16.

"Information can also be passed anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."