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Ex-Dublin footballer Connolly pleads guilty to assault

Former Dublin footballer Diarmuid Connolly punched two men and dragged one of them along the ground in an “unprovoked” New Year’s Eve attack, a court has heard.

Mr Connolly, 36, with an address at Collinswood in Beaumont, was accused of assaulting Stephen Grimes and Stephen Kiely at Shantalla Road in Santry, Dublin, on 31 December 2022.

He appeared at Dublin District Court to plead guilty before Judge Michele Finan. She ordered him to pay €2,000 compensation and adjourned sentencing until 27 June.

Garda Niamh Carolan said officers responded to an incident and attended the scene.

“Mr Kiely and Mr Grimes made statements and identified the suspected offender as Diarmuid Connolly,” the garda said.

“Mr Kiely alleged that in an unprovoked assault, he was punched and dragged to the ground by Mr Connolly, resulting in Mr Connolly ripping a North Face jacket belonging to Mr Kiely.”

“It was then reported that Mr Grimes came to the aid of Mr Kiely and was subsequently assaulted also, having received a punch to the right side of his face by Mr Connolly,” she said.

The court heard a later garda interview with the accused “was of a no-comment nature”.

However, CCTV evidence from the area that night was obtained.

Diarmuid Connolly won six All-Ireland football championships with Dublin

Judge Finan asked if the two injured parties were present at the hearing and was told they had come to court.

However, prosecution solicitor Niall McGinty explained that they decided not to stay after learning about the course their attacker had taken.

The judge noted they suffered facial bruising and swelling but did not want to provide victim impact statements.

The assault charge in this case is in a category that could result in sentences of up to six months in prison per offence, but the judge noted that Mr Connolly had no recorded convictions.

Defence solicitor Daniel Hanahoe told the court his client worked as an electrician and has two young children.

The solicitor said it was New Year’s Eve, and “he does not particularly remember how the incident happened. It was a regrettable incident, regrettable that he got involved in that situation”.

The solicitor said the second injured party was assaulted after he intervened and ran after Mr Connolly, who had not wanted the incident to continue any further.

Mr Hanahoe suggested that his client could bring some compensation for them.

The judge described it as an unfortunate offence, but she remarked that Mr Connolly dealt with it appropriately.

She noted he informed the prosecution he would plead guilty, relieving the witnesses from having to give evidence.

She told him to pay €1,000 to each complainant and suggested doing it that day.

Dressed in a charcoal jacket, black top and jeans and runners, Mr Connolly said “I’ll get it today”.

The defence cautioned that he may be unable to withdraw the sum sought, but the judge replied, “Carpe diem, Revolut, phone a friend, get it done”.

Mr Connolly left to get the money and the case stood adjourned until his return.

However, three hours later, Judge Finan saw that he was still not back and granted a four-week adjournment.

Mr Connolly won six All-Ireland football championships, ten Leinster titles, four league titles, and two All-Star Awards during his time as a Dublin player.

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