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Man questioned by gardaí after boy (9) allegedly grabbed by throat during hurling blitz

Families comforted the boy as he fought back tears after allegedly being grabbed by a man who stormed onto the pitch

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Ralph RiegelIndependent.ie

A man has made a cautioned statement to gardaí over an alleged incident at a Tipperary GAA juvenile hurling blitz where a nine-year-old boy was allegedly grabbed by the throat during a pitch invasion.

The man, who is understood to be from the Tipperary area, voluntarily presented himself at Thurles Garda station.

No arrest was made but gardaí confirmed a full investigation into the incident last Saturday is underway.

Families comforted the boy as he fought back tears after being grabbed by the throat by a man who stormed onto the pitch at a lunchtime game on Saturday.

The incident has sparked a Garda investigation and reviews by both the Munster GAA Council and Tipperary GAA County Board.

Former GAA president Sean Kelly MEP warned the association needs to adopt “a zero-tolerance approach” to incidents of indiscipline, abuse, aggression and intimidation. Mr Kelly said if the GAA and clubs do not act, it runs the risk of causing lasting damage to the image of Ireland’s most cherished sporting organisation.

After making a cautioned statement to gardaí, the man left Thurles Garda station.

Gardaí are expected to speak to those who witnessed the incident at the juvenile blitz on Saturday.

They are also set to speak with the boy who was allegedly assaulted and his mother who was on the sidelines during the incident.

It is the latest disciplinary incident to hit the GAA after a spate of referee assaults and claims of player and mentor intimidation.

Croke Park authorities have been rocked by recent incidents of assault and intimidation surrounding matches in Wexford, Kerry, Roscommon and Tipperary.

Last week Wexford County Board issued the maximum possible penalty – a 96-week ban – on a club official who assaulted a referee and an umpire during a club match.

The Irish Independent has learned that the man who invaded the pitch in Tipperary was apparently angered by a clash between a group of players during the under-9 match at Dr Morris Park.

Parents watching the match – part of a tournament blitz organised to encourage underage hurling skills – were horrified to see the man stride onto the pitch and grab the young player by the neck.

Adults and mentors rushed onto the pitch to help the boy and the man immediately released the child and walked back to the sideline.

It is understood the man left the playing pitch area a short time later.

The boy’s mother called Thurles Garda station to report the incident. The boy was uninjured and did not require medical attention at the scene.

Gardaí said they will not be commenting further given that a juvenile was involved.


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