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'overreaction' Dublin GAA star Cormac Costello found guilty of assaulting player during sideline incident

Costello, a teacher, had claimed he acted in self defence to remove himself from a skirmish happening on the sideline.


Dublin footballer Cormac Costello

Dublin footballer Cormac Costello

Dublin footballer Cormac Costello

A DUBLIN GAA star has been found guilty of assaulting a player by punching him in the face while he was a sideline spectator at a match.

Cormac Costello (27) left Aodan Fee with a broken tooth and a "shredded" mouth following the pitchside assault.

Mr Fee claimed he had "never been struck as hard before".

The assault took place following a sideline incident during a game between Costello's club Whitehall Colmcille and Naomh Mearnog in Portmarnock.

Costello, a teacher, had claimed he acted in self defence to remove himself from a skirmish happening on the sideline.

He alleged he felt "under attack" and defended himself with a "strong push" after Mr Fee, who was playing for Naomh Mearnog, punched him on the head.

Finding Costello guilty of assault, Judge John King said he accepted that Mr Fee's arm swung back to free himself after the men became entangled but it did not connect with the defendant.

He said he did not believe Mr Fee was holding onto Costello, but rather the accused had a hold of Mr Fee.

Judge King said he believed it was a punch, not a push, from Costello and the defendant's use of force was not reasonable.

He said Costello's behaviour was "an overreaction", he "should have known better", and he had intervened in a situation he shouldn't have done.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Fee said he wished the assault hadn't happened.

He said he wished he had not lost his tooth. He wished that young children at the game hadn't seen what had happened. He wished that he had not been in the newspapers.

He said he wished the GAA had investigated the matter themselves, and all he had wanted was an apology.

Mr Fee told the court he bore no ill will towards anyone, nor did he wish for anyone to suffer any long term impacts for what was a "single, stupid act".

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Defence solicitor Robert Purcell said Costello was a secondary school teacher, a successful sportsman and had no previous convictions.

Judge King ordered Costello to donate €1,000 to charity and said he would apply the probation act.

He adjourned the case for two weeks for the money to be brought to court, and for Mr Fee to nominate a suitable charity.

Costello, of Lorcan Crescent in Santry, had denied seriously assaulting Mr Fee on July 6, 2019.

Last Monday, Aodan Fee told Swords District Court he followed a Whitehall's player, Luke McCarthy, who had the ball, along the sideline, and tried to tackle him and dispossess him.

Mr Fee said the ball went over the sideline and both players went after it. Mr McCarthy fell and he went down on top of him. He was trying to get up when he felt a third person pulling out of him.

He said he knew this person wasn't a player. As he got up this person was "jostling" him, and he was punched in the face. He alleged this person was Costello.

Mr Fee said he lost most of his front tooth and the assault "shredded my mouth completely". He accepted he got up and continued playing in the match.

He said he was scared because it was not normal for a spectator to get involved and touch a player.

In his evidence, Costello said he was standing on the sidelines when two players battling for a ball came at speed towards him.

He stepped back, put his hands out and braced himself for contact.

He said the three were now tangled, grabbing on to each other.

He tried to separate the players but Mr Fee tried to pull him down.

Costello said he was hunched over Mr Fee, who was holding on to him.

He claimed Mr Fee then "seemed to go mad", swinging out at him, and he was punched to the side of the head.

Costello claimed he felt "under attack", and couldn't break away.

He was scared and defended himself by pushing Mr Fee away as hard as he could.

Costello said he then backed off and stayed out of the pushing and shoving.

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