Dublin GAA star Cormac Costello left man with broken tooth in assault

22/11/2021 – Cormac Costello, of Lorcan Crescent, Santry, Dublin pictured arriving at Swords District Court. Picture: Paddy Cummins/IrishPhotoDesk.ie

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“He had the opportunity to retreat and his use of force was not reasonable,” the judge said on handing down his guilty verdict.

“It was a reaction. It was an overreaction and he should have known better,” the judge continued.

In his victim impact statement delivered in court Mr Fee said he “I really wished it hadn’t happened in this way.”

“I wish I never lost part of my tooth, I wish children at the game didn’t have to see what occurred,” Mr Fee said, adding that he bears no ill will towards anyone.

He said he wished the GAA sporting body had “worked as it should and investigated the incident itself.”

“It was a single, stupid act,” he said, adding that he has no long term injuries and asked the judge to be as lenient as he can with Mr Costello.

The incident unfolded during the second half of the Division 2 AFL game between Mr Costello’s club Whitehall Colmcille and hosts Naomh Mearnog in Portmarnock, Co Dublin two years ago.

Mr Costello, a key member of the county’s team that won six All-Ireland titles in a row, was a spectator at a game when he struck Naomh Mearnog player Aodan Fee with one punch in the mouth after a sideline tackle crossed over into the spectators.

Mr Costello had denied assaulting Aodan Fee causing him harm at Naomh Mearnog GAA in Portmarnock on July 6, 2019.

The accused, of Lorcan Crescent in Santry, claimed he acted in self-defence to get out of the situation after he claimed he was struck by Mr Fee during the melee that broke out during the match.

Earlier this week, Mr Fee told Swords District Court that while he and Whitehall player Luke McCarthy were battling for the ball they went at speed across the sideline into the crowd of spectators.

Mr Fee claimed Mr Costello started to pull out of him and jostled him.

He then claimed Mr Costello struck him on the face, leaving his front tooth chipped.

“It was a very, very solid punch. It was very, very painful,” Mr Fee said, claiming he had never been struck as hard before.

Mr Fee claimed he was “very scared for my safety” because it was not normal for a spectator to touch a player.

Mr Costello, who plays for Whitehall Colmcille but was a spectator at the match because he had commitments with the Dublin senior team the following week, claimed the two players, Mr Fee and Mr McCarthy, “came at speed towards me”, and he put his two hands up to push them back.

“Then the three of us ended up tangled together. I tried to separate the two players and Mr Fee grabbed me and I grabbed him. He drove his head into my chest and swung at me, clipping the side of my head,” Mr Costello, who works as a school teacher, claimed.

“I got punched in the side of the head. I was afraid. I pushed away to break from his hold,” Mr Costello said.

“I didn’t want to be there. I felt under attack. He pulled me down. I couldn’t break away. He was swinging at me and attacking me. I was scared.”

He claimed he pushed Mr Fee away with force and that he did not mean to cause harm to anyone.

Dublin's Cormac Costello and Paddy Durcan of Mayo
(Image: ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)

Today, at Balbriggan District Court, Judge King, on delivering his guilty verdict, said “the victim could not have had a hold on the accused.

“The accused had a hold on the victim. He punched him, not pushed him,” the judge said.

The judge said he did not accept that Mr Fee drove his head into Mr Costello’s chest and did not accept Mr Fee was holding Mr Costello.

“The accused intervened as a spectator when he should not have. He had the opportunity to retreat and his use of force was not reasonable (for an act of self-defence),” Judge King said.

“It was a reaction. It was an overreaction and he should have known better,” the judge continued.

“I am willing to give him a conditional discharge under the Probation Act on the payment of €1,000 to a charity nominated by the victim,” the judge said and adjourned the case until December 9.

If the charity donation is paid, the judge will apply the Probation Act.

However, if the donation is not paid, the judge said he will impose a default order of a conviction and a €500 fine.

The judge fixed recognisances in the event of an appeal.

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