Five off as violence mars Ulster club final
Ugly scenes marred yesterday's Ulster club hurling final at Casement Park when in the closing minutes the crowd rushed the pitch and referee John Anthony Gribben from Down had to be escorted from the ground. For the record, Dunloy won what had been an exciting game by 3-16 to 4-10, but now an investigation must be held into what happened as the action drew to a close.
In the eighth minute of extra time, a Lavey player Oliver Collins was adjudged to have fouled a Dunloy defender and a free was awarded against him. A brawl developed resulting in five players being sent off; Collins and Seamus Downey from Lavey, plus Dunloy men Tony McGrath, Seamus McMullan and Gary O'Kane. This action did not seem to please either section of the crowd with many spectators leaping over the wire fence and on to the playing surface. As the game ended the angry crowd grew and officials had to rescue Gribben from the mauling forces.
The trophy was presented to Dunloy captain Alistair Elliott, but some people now feel that the Antrim champions will be stripped of the title. There is certainly no doubt that the Ulster council will fully investigate what happened.
"The Ulster Council will surely hold an investigation into these ugly scenes and we in Antrim will give them full backing. We will back whatever decision they come to," promised Antrim board chairman, Joe O'Boyle.
The match itself produced some splendid hurling with underdogs Lavey hitting Dunloy with a shock goal just eight seconds after the throw-in. They hammered in another in the fifth minute to lead by 2-1 to 0-1 before Dunloy got into their stride. Liam Richmond fired in Dunloy's first goal in the 13th minute as the Antrim champions went on to lead by 3-11 to 3-4 at the interval.
Throughout the second half Dunloy held the upper hand, despite some excellent work by Oliver Collins in attack for the Derry men. Collins ended his action with two goals and four points to top score. Dunloy's Gregory O'Kane was always on hand to peg back the challengers threatened.