Trial Day 3: ‘Pillar’ suggested to accused it would be a good idea to apologise to Ledwith

Jessica Magee


Jessica Magee

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Former Dublin senior football team manager Garda Paul “Pillar” Caffrey told a former player of his it would be a “good idea” to apologise after an alleged assault that took place during a league match, a court has heard.

Former Dublin senior football team manager Garda Paul “Pillar” Caffrey told a former player of his it would be a “good idea” to apologise after an alleged assault that took place during a league match, a court has heard.

Garda Caffrey was giving evidence on the third day of the trial of former Dublin player Brendan McManamon (30), who is accused of breaking an off-duty garda’s jaw on the pitch.

Mr McManamon, of Camden Street, Dublin 8, pleaded not guilty to assault causing harm to former Longford player Garda Enda Ledwith at Na Fianna GAA Club, St Mobhi Road, Glasnevin on March 31, 2012.

Garda Ledwith was playing for home team Na Fianna while the accused was with St Judes of Templeogue.

Garda Caffrey told prosecuting counsel Diarmaid Collins BL that he had selected Mr McManamon to play for Dublin during his time as Dublin County Manager.

Garda Caffrey was a spectator at the game in question at his home club of Na Fianna and did not see the incident.

He said he heard the whistle being blown and when he turned around he saw Enda on his knees and Mr McManamon being spoken to by the referee and then being sent off.

Garda Caffrey said he went down to Enda as he looked in quite a distressed state, and saw that his jaw was misaligned and that there was damage done.

He said he had a chat with Mr McManamon, who asked him if he could apologise.

When Garda Caffrey said, “You haven’t done so?” and the accused man replied no, Garda Caffrey told him it would be a “good idea” to go down to the ambulance.

“It’s always part of the game that you shake hands with opponents at the end of a game, whether you win or lose or draw,” he told the court.

Garda Caffrey agreed with defence counsel Breffni Gordon BL that he was affectionately known as “Pillar” Caffrey, to do with his interest in caterpillars when he was a child.

He said Brendan and his brother Kevin were from a “great, staunch GAA family”.

“I would have played against their father Maxi many years ago. They’re a typical GAA family, steeped in it. Good people,” he said.

When asked if that decency percolated out of the family and onto the pitch, Garda Caffrey described Brendan and Kevin as “both physical players”.

The court also heard evidence from Finbarr Shanahan, the match referee, who said he saw the accused strike Garda Ledwith to the face.

Mr Shanahan said about ten minutes before the end, he heard a verbal altercation and looked over his shoulder.

Mr Shanahan said he saw Mr McManamon had hit Mr Ledwith to the side of his face “with a closed fist”, and that he blew the whistle and issued a red card to the accused for striking with the hand.

Detective Sergeant Michael Mulligan took a statement from the accused on July 21, 2012.

Mr McManamon told gardaí that he struck out in a “reflex action” after he had been hit in the testicles.

Mr McManamon said he was “body checked” by his opponent when he went to take a run up the wing and that as he spun around to get away from him, Gda Ledwith struck him between the legs onto his testicles.

“As this happened I striked (sic) out, appearing to catch him on the side of the face,” the statement read.

After he got a red card, Mr McManamon told gardaí he explained to the referee that he had been defending himself after “clearly being struck first.”

When gardaí told Mr McManamon that Garda Ledwith claimed he pushed him in the chest, the accused said it was a “complete fabrication of what really happened.”

“He’s not putting in the crucial point. He did a lot more than push me to the chest. I’ve been playing football for 25 years and I haven’t been struck in the testicles the way I was. My testicles were very sore afterwards and as soon as he hit me,” he said.

When asked why he had apologised to Gda Ledwith after the match, Mr McManamon said, “I’m a proud man. I wouldn’t want any bad blood between the club and the players.”

When gardaí put it to Mr McManamon in interview that witnesses claimed he said “Get up or I’ll hit you again”, the accused replied that it was “completely untrue”.

“I said, “You hit me first!” I was disputing that I was getting sent off and that he wasn’t getting sent off as well,” he said.

He told gardaí that he was aware that Garda Ledwith had suffered a double fracture to the jaw and that it was a serious injury.

He said he got the “standard month or two game ban” from the GAA’s Central Competitions Council after the incident.

Earlier, the court heard that Garda Ledwith spent three days in hospital for his fractured jaw and had three metal plates inserted during surgery.

The case continues before Judge Patricia Ryan and a jury of nine men and three women.