Police to investigate pitch battle 'mayhem'

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is to look at evidence from an Irish Cup tie that was abandoned after a mass brawl.

Punches and kicks were traded between players and coaching staff as the match between Newry City and Larne exploded into a pitch battle.

It has been described as the worst violence at an Irish League match for decades.

Newry were leading 2-1 with eight minutes left of Saturday’s tie when the trouble broke out.

Two Larne players, Liam Hogan and Alan Reid, and the club’s manager, Paul Millar, were dismissed prior to the ugly scenes.

The violence could now become the subject of a police investigation.

“The PSNI intends to study all available footage to determine if a criminal offence has been committed,” a spokesman said.

Players, substitutes and coaching staff were embroiled in the violence, with referee Raymond Crangle abandoning the tie.

He is now due to submit a report to the Irish Football Association, while both clubs will be asked for their observations on the tie.

“In all my time in refereeing I never saw anything so farcical,” said Mr Crangle after the game.

“There were melees developing all over the pitch involving players and substitutes and coaching staff from both dug-outs.

“I was left with no alternative but to abandon the game.” Irish FA President Raymond Kennedy said he expected the referee’s report to be forwarded in the next 24 hours.

“There is no place in football for the scenes that allegedly went on,” he said yesterday. “The referee will report what he knows about it and there will be observations from both sides.”

Former Irish League player Alan Patterson, commenting on the game for radio, described the trouble as “the worst scenes I have ever seen in 40 years of watching Irish League football”.

Newry manager John McDonnell said the trouble “kicked off out of nothing”.

“It was not nice what happened — I tried to get my players off the pitch as quickly as possible,” he said.

Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley said he was shocked at the scenes.

“This was a shocking incident and must be fully investigated by soccer authorities,” said the SDLP man.

“Those responsible for instigating this mayhem must be identified and brought to book.

“Such behaviour is a very poor advertisement for sport and must be eradicated from the game.”

Sourced from: The Belfast Telegraph