Trial date set for GAA fans

THREE Dundalk men accused of attacking referee Martin Sludden after last year’s controversial Leinster Senior Football final at Croke Park had their trial date set yesterday (Monday, September 5).

THREE Dundalk men accused of attacking referee Martin Sludden after last year’s controversial Leinster Senior Football final at Croke Park had their trial date set yesterday (Monday, September 5).

Joseph Conlon (aged 23), of Marlbog Road, Haggardstown, Dundalk, Paul Grimes (aged 50), with an address at Willowdale Bay Estate, Dundalk and Dermot Rodgers (aged 44), of Belfry Gardens, St Alphonsus Road, Dundalk, were summonsed on a charge of assaulting Sludden, at Croke Park stadium, on July 11 last year.

The prosecution has been brought under Section Two of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Persons Act, which on conviction can result in a sentence of up to six months’ imprisonment and or a fine.

Sludden was confronted by Louth fans after he allowed a goal to Meath in the closing seconds of the crucial match. The decision cost Louth its first Leinster title in 53 years.

TV replays showed that the goal should have been disallowed, as Meath’s Joe Sheridan had thrown the ball over the line. Outraged Louth supporters challenged Sludden, who had to be escorted off the pitch by gardai. Sludden appeared to be jostled and pushed by supporters after the game on July 11 last.

Television cameras that were following Sludden off the field of play captured the incidents. CCTV footage from within Croke Park was also used as part of the Garda investigation.

The GAA also conducted an investigation. The Co Tyrone-based referee later admitted he was wrong to award the goal, which cost Louth the Leinster Championship. Sludden did not subsequently referee another championship match in 2010 but was back to action this year with a series of league matches in Division 2 and Division 3.

Lawyers for the three Dundalk men told Judge Cormac Dunne at Dublin District Court yesterday that a hearing date was required.

One of the men - Mr Rodgers was not present when the case was called, however, the judge was told he was on his way to court.

Judge Dunne noted from the defence lawyers that there could be five or six witnesses called and CCTV evidence would be used. He said the trial “requires nearly a day” and ordered that it would be held on on February 6 next.