Dispute over soccer match may have led to man's death outside Avoca pub


THE GARDA believe they know the identity of a man who assaulted a fellow drinker in a rural pub which resulted in the victim sustaining fatal injuries.

The row may have been linked to an earlier dispute over a soccer match broadcast on the pub’s TV. Brian Doyle, a 48-year-old single man, died after he was punched in the head and fell to the ground outside a pub in the picturesque village of Avoca, Co Wicklow.

The pub outside which the incident occurred, Fitzgerald’s on Main Street, was made famous when it was featured in the BBC television series Ballykissangel.

Mr Doyle, who was from the area and lived in Kilmagig next to Avoca, had gone to the pub just before 3pm on Sunday. He stayed for the day, drinking in the company of local people who he knew well as they watched soccer on the pub television.

At around 9pm, Mr Doyle stepped out to have a cigarette. Gardaí believe an argument, about the Everton vs Liverpool soccer game earlier in the day, began between some of those gathered smoking outside the pub. Mr Doyle was punched in the head and fell to the ground, suffering head injuries. Officers are investigating whether he may also have been struck by a car after he was assaulted and fell.

A passing motorist saw Mr Doyle on the ground and called the emergency services.

However, paramedics’ attempts to resuscitate Mr Doyle failed and he was pronounced dead just after 9.30pm outside Fitzgerald’s Pub.

Gardaí sealed off the crime scene overnight. Mr Doyle’s remains were covered with a tent, used by the Garda Technical Bureau to preserve forensic evidence in such cases.

The body was left at the scene overnight.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jabbar yesterday carried out a preliminary examination of the remains at the scene. The body was then taken away for a postmortem.

Officers are working on a definite line of inquiry and they believe they know the identity of the man who assaulted Mr Doyle.

Supt Pat Ward from Arklow Garda station appealed to anybody who was in Fitzgerald’s Pub from 3pm to around 10pm on Sunday to come forward.

“We’re anxious to talk to anybody who was in Fitzgerald’s pub . . . who might have any information on any incident either inside or outside the pub,” Supt Ward said. Mr Doyle’s death was a “tragedy for Avoca and for the people in it”, he added.

“We’ve spoken to a number of people [who were] in the pub but we know that there are others that we haven’t yet spoken to. We’re anxious to speak to those. Rest assured that the gardaí are committing full resources to this investigation, and we will do everything to bring it to an early conclusion. We can assure the public that no effort will be spared in doing that.”

Local sources, who described Mr Doyle as “harmless”, said he was a well-known man who regularly drank in Fitzgerald’s pub and walked the short distance to his nearby home in the evening.

Another local man said it was a “terrible shock” to the local, tight-knit community.

“This is a quiet little village, nobody ever expects things like this,” he said.

Members of the Garda Technical Bureau examined the crime scene throughout yesterday. Gardaí in Arklow are leading the investigation.