Judge orders McGrath to coach children for one day

Former Irish international pleads guilty to public order offences

Former Irish international footballer Paul McGrath has been ordered by a judge to coach young children for a day after he pleaded guilty to public order offences.

McGrath (53) was arrested by gardai near the Tullamore Court Hotel in Co Offaly on June 29th after being found drunk and attempting to get into two parked cars.

Inspector John Lawless said the former Manchester United and Aston Villa defender was acting in a disturbed manner during the incident.

Tullamore District Court heard McGrath was at a family wedding and had been drinking all day Friday and into Saturday and didn’t recall his outburst.


Solicitor Donal Farrelly said McGrath sometimes turned to drink to cope with a debilitating disorder whereby he suffers acute anxiety during social occasions.

McGrath, who appeared in court dressed in a black suit, black open necked shirt and brown shoes, was extremely ashamed of himself and his public humiliation was all the more painful because of his fame, the lawyer said.

Judge Alan Mitchell said he was taking into consideration that McGrath was a "national hero", his forthright apology to the garda, and an "impressive" letter from his doctor handed in to the court.

"I am aware you are a national hero and considered one of the greatest soccer players in Ireland, " he said.

“Growing up myself I would have watched many of the games.

“But I was not a supporter of many of the clubs you played with myself - I was a Leeds United supporter.

“I’m also aware, as a hero, people looked up to you, and still look up to you.”

The judge said if McGrath agreed to come back to the town and coach children of different age groups over a full day at Tullamore Soccer Club, and he stayed out of trouble, then he would dismiss the charges against him within six months.

McGrath replied: “Yeah, I’ll do it. No problem.”

Several fans queued to get autographs from the former soccer star before he was sped away from the court in a black BMW along with his agent.