Alleged 'superman' punch during soccer game in Kilkenny

Witness: Accused jumped off ground and threw ‘superman punch’

Darren Hassett

Reporter:

Darren Hassett

Email:

darren.hassett@kilkennypeople.ie

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Kilkenny Courthouse

A man accused of assaulting an opposition player with a “superman punch” in a soccer game just moments after he scored a goal from a handball has had his case adjourned.

Mark Fitzpatrick with an address at 12 Oakfield Green, Riverstown, Glanmire, Cork appeared before Kilkenny District Court on March 6.

He is charged under Section 3 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act and is alleged to have assaulted Shane Phelan on February 22 of 2016 causing him harm at Scanlon Park, Kilkenny.

The court heard Mr Phelan, who is originally from Durrow, was playing in the position of right back for his soccer team, the Valley Ramblers, on the date in question.

His team were playing a team called Supertroopers and in giving evidence, Mr Phelan said the only thing he remembers from the incident is the accused, Mr Fitzpatrick, controlling the ball with his right hand and scoring a goal.

Giving evidence, Mr Phelan said: “He handballed it and my next memory is being on the ground hearing sound with my hands on my face. I remember blood and sound. I wasn’t sure what was going on or what happened.

“There was a lot of hustle and bustle then.”

Mr Phelan, who had played with the Valley Ramblers for three years, told the court that according to his recollection, he was to the right hand side of the goal and he was six feet from the goal post.

After the incident, he went to St Luke’s Hospital where it was discovered he suffered multiple fractures to his face and nose with the majority of injuries occurring on the left side of his face from the eye down to the nose.

He returned to the hospital the next day for a scan and he was then transferred to St James’s in Dublin for surgery.

Photos were handed into court of Mr Phelan’s face and head after the incident and after surgery as well as a medical report.

Describing the game, which was in the second half when the alleged assault occurred, Mr Phelan said it was a competitive game but it was “not heated”.

A free kick was awarded to Supertroopers and Mr Fitzpatrick was at the end of the ball sent in and scored the goal. The ball was sent into the left-hand side of the goal and the court heard Mr Fitzpatrick came across the goal towards the right side in celebration.

Mr Phelan admitted that he could see how Mr Fitzpatrick’s motion would send him his way.

Solicitor Edward Hughes, defending Mr Fitzpatrick, said his client lost balance after scoring the goal and hit his head off the goal post and ended up in the side netting.

Mr Hughes said his client contends he hit his head quite hard and CCTV footage, not played in court, showed the goal post moving a foot.

The court heard that it is Mr Fitzpatrick’s contention that as he came out backwards of the netting some sort of a collision occurred between the two men.

The referee, John Martin, who will give evidence in the case, is said to have given Mr Fitzpatrick a yellow card for the incident and the card is believed to be for the handball.

Mr Phelan said his team weren’t happy and “walked off the field” in protest, he told the court and Mr Hughes informed him that there was also an altercation between the referee and his teammates.

He said his team were frustrated with what happened and the seriousness of it.

In response to questions about his decision to go to Gardaí about the incident, Mr Phelan said: “I’ve been playing sport since primary school, hurling, football. Soccer fills the gap now.”

He added that it was a funny situation as it was hard to be angry about something he had no memory of.

He admitted that it was foreign to him to go to the Gardaí over something that happened on a sports field and it would be wrong but he said: “I’m glad I did,” after his teammates convinced him.

Giving evidence, Mr Phelan’s wife Mary, said she took her husband home from A&E at St Luke’s but was initially contacted by Joey Webster, a teammate of Mr Phelan.

Mr Webster told her that Mr Phelan “had been punched in the face, they were the words he (Joey Webster) used”.

Mr Webster, who was playing left back on the date of the incident, also gave evidence at the hearing and described the alleged assault as a “superman punch”.

He said that Mr Fitzpatrick “jumped in the air and threw a punch and Shane’s head went back”.

“Shane’s right hand side of his face hit the goal post as the momentum of the box put him into it,” he said.

The court heard from the witness that Mr Fitzpatrick then fell over Shane and into the net. Mr Webster later went to find
Shane, who left the field by himself, and Mr Webster followed the blood spatters leading out to the car park and found him there.

The legal representative for Mr Fitzpatrick put it to Mr Webster that his teammate was confident that he was outside of the goal post and six foot out and that he couldn’t have hit the right side of his face, he also said the complainant had no injuries to his right side.

Mr Webster said this was not his recollection of the incident and added that he knows what he saw on the day. Mr Hughes told the witness that it will be the referee’s evidence that Mr Fitzpatrick lost balance climbing out of the net and that’s when the impact happened.

A third witness for the State, Martin Darmody, said he was playing centre half and dropped back to the penalty area for the free kick.

He said he saw Mr Fitzpatrick handle the ball during the course of him putting it into the net.

Mr Darmody said the accused “drew back a closed fist” and he could hear the impact but did not see the point of impact. He added that Shane was inside the goal post.

Mr Hughes said it was Mr Webster’s recollection that Mr Fitzpatrick allegedly committed a “superman style punch” with fists out and “ran towards Mr Phelan with fists out”.

Another witness, Austin Cleere, a striker on the date in question, had moved to within 60 and 70 metres of his goal and said Mr Fitzpatrick scored the goal and headed straight in the direction of Mr Phelan.

He described what he saw as a very quick punch but a “deliberate action”. He added: “What I saw wasn’t unintentional. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing with the initial impact.”

Mr Cleere said if Mr Fitzpatrick was the one who hit his head off the goal post “surely his head would’ve been split open”.

Mr Hughes said his client did receive medical treatment a couple of days after the incident.

In between the State calling their next witness, a legal issue arose during the course of the hearing and Judge Colin Daly adjourned the matter for one month to April 10 for mention.

Both the referee on the date in question and Mr Fitzpatrick have yet to give evidence in the case.