Dublin gun attack: ‘The kids were really scared’

Eyewitnesses recall the panic and chaos of the shooting outside the National Stadium

There was a heavy Garda presence at the National Stadium on Saturday afternoon following Friday night’s shooting outside the Dublin venue.

Garda tape crisscrossed the telephone poles and trees – the only visible reminder of the shooting in which a career criminal and an American student, who was an innocent passerby, were injured.

The South Circular Road up to Leonard's Corner was closed to traffic and students attending Griffith College were told to park their cars elsewhere.

All was serenity itself in comparison with the panicked scenes in the area on Friday night.

The National U18 Boxing Championships were under way at the stadium when a spectator, who was outside smoking a cigarette, heard gunfire. She ran back into the stadium screaming.

"It was her that panicked everybody," said Art O'Brien, the national secretary of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA), who was in attendance.

“People started running across the stage. They were hiding under seats and even under the ring. Some of them ran for the back door. Nobody knew what was happening.

“I felt sorry for all the young kids who were there. We went up to the shop afterwards and the girl gave us a box of selected chocolate bars so we gave them out. They were really scared.”

The shooting occurred during the second round of the fight between Nadine Dermody and Elice Elliott for the women’s U18 69kg welterweight title.

That fight was abandoned. The six other fights scheduled for after that bout were re-run on Saturday morning.

On Saturday it was business as usual for the National Stadium. “Some people suggested that we abandon [the championship bouts on] Saturday,” said Mr O’Brien, “but the majority view is that we’re not giving in to thugs. We’re not going to let them bully us.”

‘No association’

Boxing trainer Paddy Gallagher, who was also in attendance on Friday night, said abandoning the event would have created an association between the boxing and the shooting.

“It happened on the main road. Just because a shooting happens outside a pub, doesn’t mean it’s the pub’s fault,” he said.

Visitors to the National U18 and U22 Boxing Championships were scanned on their way into the stadium’s main hall on Saturday, but otherwise there was nothing to suggest a serious incident had occurred the night before.

The day’s 16 bouts took place one after the other. The crowd ebbed and flowed according to who was fighting.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times