Referee shoved in chest after GAA final


THERE WERE no arrests in Croke Park yesterday despite unruly scenes at the end of the Leinster football final between Louth and Meath in which referee Martin Sludden was pushed and jostled.

Any formal Garda investigation will begin only if the referee makes a formal statement of complaint at a Garda station. Garda sources said that while criminal investigations can be opened without a formal statement of complaint from a victim, this is not common.

Louth were leading 1-10 to Meath’s 0-12 when, during extra time, Meath’s Joe Sheridan appeared to throw the ball into the net. The goal was allowed by the referee after consultation with an umpire.

Three minutes’ extra time had been allowed at the end of the game, and the ball hit the net at 73 minutes and 34 seconds.

It would have been Louth’s first time to win a Leinster final since 1957, and there was a furious reaction from Louth supporters in Croke Park.

A man in a red shirt rushed onto the field and shoved the referee in the chest. He was followed by RTÉ cameras as he left the scene.

Gardaí escorted the referee off the field as he was jostled twice more by angry football fans and pushed in the back by another. Shortly afterwards, an apparently injured steward was seen lying on the ground awaiting attention.

GAA president Christy Cooney said: “The treatment of the referee was absolutely disgraceful. We will need a serious review of our security at Croke Park.

“A course of action might need to be taken against individuals that transgressed security,” Mr Cooney added.