Ronan O’Gara’s pub partner rejects claim he misappropriated €15,725

John O’Driscoll, a former teammate of the rugby star, claims funds taken from Silly Goose pub in Cork city centre were repayment of money owed to him

A former business partner of one-time Irish rugby international Ronan O’Gara has rejected an allegation that he misappropriated €15,725 in funds from their Cork city centre pub.

In a new High Court filing, pub manager John O’Driscoll, who ran the Silly Goose bar in which Mr O’Gara is an investor, claims the €15,725 was repaid to him by Ezeon, the company behind the bar, in the 2019 tax year because he had been owed €19,712 by the firm before that year.

Mr O’Gara, now manager of the French rugby side La Rochelle, is challenging the personal insolvency arrangement - a form of financial rescue plan for heavily indebted individuals - secured by Mr O’Driscoll, his former UCC and Cork Constitution rugby team-mate, last year.

Mr O’Gara and businessman Michael O’Flynn, another shareholder in the pub, are seeking to set aside Mr O’Driscoll’s arrangement with the legal application through Ezeon over various claims, including the alleged misappropriation of €15,725 in company funds by Mr O’Driscoll.


It is also claimed that significant stock went missing from the company.

As a shareholder of Ezeon, the rugby star alleged last month in an affidavit that Mr O’Driscoll misappropriated €15,725 in funds from the pub. He provided the court with text messages exchanged between the pair in which Mr O’Gara claimed his pub partner had “f**king fleeced” him.

Mr O’Gara claimed he learned of a deficit at the company in September 2020 while signing off on Ezeon’s 2019 financial statements. He claimed in the messages with Mr O’Driscoll dating from March 2021 that the pub manager took money out of the company that Mr O’Gara put in.

Mr O’Gara and Mr O’Flynn claim in Ezeon’s application that the Circuit and High Courts that approved and upheld Mr O’Driscoll’s insolvency arrangement were misled by him.

In a new sworn statement to the court in reply to their claims, Mr O’Driscoll rejected the allegations, saying that at no point did he misappropriate the €15,725 and that the suggestion made by Mr O’Gara and Mr O’Flynn through their Ezeon application was “entirely incorrect.”

Mr O’Driscoll has argued that he drew no meaningful wage from the company and that the funds he withdrew was merely a repayment of money owed and acknowledged in the company’s own accounts.

He accepted that Mr O’Gara and Mr O’Flynn were also both owed money by the company and that Mr O’Flynn was the main creditor, being owed more than €2 million.

In his court filing, Mr O’Driscoll acknowledged he had withdrawn the funds in repayment of money owing to him without their prior knowledge, but rejected that this was improper.

When it was made clear to him that Mr O’Gara and Mr O’Flynn felt it was necessary for him “to reintroduce the finance to the company,” he agreed to do so “without hesitation,” he said.

He told the court Mr O’Flynn and Mr O’Gara were “perfectly content” to allow him to remain in control of Ezeon as a director where he remained until he resigned last year after Mr O’Flynn called an extraordinary general meeting to consider his removal from the company.

Mr O’Gara had claimed that he had contributed €20,000 to keep the pub company afloat and that he only learned of Mr O’Driscoll’s insolvency arrangement from media reports.

The case came before Mr Justice Alexander Owens on Monday, who questioned whether the application should be heard by the High Court.

Mr O’Driscoll’s personal insolvency practitioner, Alan McGee, has also sworn a statement to the court. His lawyer Bernard Dunleavy SC, instructed by solicitor Eugene Carley said Mr McGee viewed the application as without merit and entirely pointless.

The personal insolvency practitioner has also argued that the High Court does not have jurisdiction to hear the application and that Ezeon’s claim should be heard in the Circuit Court.

It is alleged that Mr O’Flynn, who is awaiting a Supreme Court decision on whether to hear an appeal of a failed court attempt to set aside Mr O’Driscoll’s arrangement, is using Ezeon’s claim to re-litigate the case.

Martin Hayden SC with Keith Farry BL, for Ezeon, said his side wants to make submissions on the matter and will argue that the High Court does have jurisdiction to hear the application.

Mr Justice Owens said the preliminary issue on jurisdiction will have to be decided first. He adjourned the matter for a week to allow them to exchange documents on the issue.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times