Camogie officials in a terrifying ordeal
A Wexford camogie referee and his women umpires were given a frighteningly rough reception in Laois after a match on Sunday. Boolavogue official Adohagán Swords was pelted with sticks and stones and had the air let out of a car tyre at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise, and later was practically forced off the road as he and his female match officials attempted to leave town.
He needed a Garda escort for the short walk from the changing rooms to his car, which he found partly blocked by a driver who refused to move.
Most terrifying of all, he and his colleagues were chased out of town at speeds of up to 80 mph before being forced off the road. An attempt was made to grab his keys and only when this failed was he permitted to go on his way back to Co. Wexford.
The incidents arose out of the Leinster Junior club tie between Avoca of Wicklow and Laois representatives, Slieve Bloom. Sunday’s match was described by one observer as a good, tough game, and it resulted in a 2-6 to 1-6 win for the visiting Avoca girls.
As he left the pitch, Mr Swords was the target of sticks thrown at him by irate spectators. A woman walking beside him was hit by a stone as big an adult’s hand, and had to be helped from the scene.
After this, the match officials made no attempt to leave the ground until the Gardai were in attendance. When they finally emerged under escort, there was still a large crowd hanging around the exit, and it was discovered that the referee’s car was hemmed in.
With it was eventually moved, the referee found he had a flat tyre, and a matchstick was later removed from the tyre valve. Once back on the road, attempts were made by another vehicle to stop him taking the car into the correct lane for the Wexford turn-off.
However, the Boolavogue man finally accelerated away, only to be caught about four miles from town. He was forced to stop and pull over by the driver of a Toyota Corolla who was prepared to drive within inches of his quarry.
The driver’s door was unlocked on the Wexford car and a man made an unsuccessful grab at the ignition key. Eventually, the harassed official and his umpires were allowed to drive off.
The camogie authorities are studying the referee’s report on the match before considering whether any action is necessary. It is understood that the Gardai have also received a complaint arising from the game.
Aodhagán himself, who is current PRO for the Wexford County Camogie Board, refused this week to make any comment on the affair.
A spokeswoman for the Laois County Camogie Board was this week quoted in the ‘Irish Press’ as being critical of some of the Slive Bloom supporters. However, according to the ‘Press’ report, she felt that the fans were left with ‘very few options’ because of certain decisions made during the game.