Four banned from football for 40 years over attack on referee

Mullingar Town players carried out ‘vicious’ assault on Daniel Sweeney after match

Three Mullingar Town players have been banned from "all football activity" for a period of 40 years following a "vicious" assault on a referee at a match earlier this month.

A fourth unnamed individual has been banned from all activity under the jurisdiction of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), the Combined Counties Football League (CCFL) said. This individual has been identified as a former player at the club who had previously been banned from playing over another assault.

The CCFL made the sanctions known on Friday in a public statement deemed necessary due to the level of publicity the incident attracted.

Daniel Sweeney was attacked in a pub car park following a match between Horseleap United and Mullingar Town.


He suffered a broken jaw and fractured eye socket. He required five hours of surgery and had a number of plates fitted in his jaw.

Mullingar Town has been fined €500 for failure to control its players and supporters. The money will be contributed to Mr Sweeney’s recovery fund.

In a statement issued on Friday, the CCFL described the assault as a “vicious, unprecedented level of violence”.

Garda investigations into the incident are ongoing and no arrests have yet been made.

“The incidents that occurred at the end and in the aftermath of this football game are not representative of the magnificent work undertaken by the volunteers in the administration, playing and refereeing of association football,” the statement said.

Other outcomes of the disciplinary hearings held in the wake of the assault are that the club will have three match officials in attendance at all remaining games of the season.

A liaison officer has also been appointed to liaise and assist match officials at home and away fixtures, it said.

“Mullingar Town [is] to meet the CCFL Executive Committee within three months to outline plans for an improved club structure addressing existing volunteer deficiencies,” the statement said.

Last week it emerged, following a meeting between FAI officials and the Irish Soccer Referees’ Society, that tougher sanctions are to be introduced regarding assaults on referees.

The proposals state that anyone who does so could face a lifetime ban from the sport in place of the current minimum of one year.

Shortly after sustaining his injuries, Mr Sweeney said he bore no animosity toward those involved but expressed his desire for greater safety measures for referees.

“What I would like to see out of this is, is that a referee can go on to a football field and feel safe and be safe,” he said.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times