Ex-soccer star jailed over cannabis haul has links to Ryan feud mob
A man who has been jailed for three years after being caught with over €115,000 worth of cannabis is strongly linked to a mob who had been in a vicious feud with slain Real IRA figure Alan Ryan.
Dad-of-one Keith Farrelly (40), who represented Ireland as a teenager and was later signed as a youth by English club Queens Park Rangers, was jailed at Dublin Circuit Court this week.
Despite just having two previous criminal convictions, the Herald has learnt Farrelly has close links to a mob who have been involved in tiger kidnappings, armed robberies and major drugs trafficking.
Close pals of the jailed drug dealer were involved in a violent late-night bust-up outside a Coolock pub with Ryan's mob in August 2012, just days before the Real IRA leader was shot dead in Clongriffin, north Dublin.
The pub incident involved a close associate of Farrelly receiving a "horrendous beating" when two car-loads of Ryan's thugs pulled up and attacked him.
The victim was not even the main intended target of the attack, but he required life-saving hospital treatment after being stabbed as well as suffering serious injuries in the course of the prolonged beating.
The incident led to a major escalation of tensions, with death threats being passed back and forth between the RIRA mob and associates of the victim, including the infamous 'Mr Big' drugs mob.
Sources say that the incident was considered a "final straw" by a number of major crime gangs operating in the locality, who then "clubbed together" to have Ryan shot dead as he walked with pals in broad daylight on September 3, 2012.
Keith Farrelly is not suspected of having any role in the feud between the mobs even though he was a target for Ryan's gang
This week, Farrelly (40), of Swans Nest Road, Kilbarrack, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to having 5.7kg of cannabis worth an estimated €115,945 on September 9 last.
His two previous convictions are for public order and holding a mobile phone while driving.
The court heard gardai had Farrelly under surveillance, following a tip-off, and spotted him leaving an apartment in Baldoyle. He drove off in a Nissan Almera after putting a shopping bag in the boot of the car.
He was followed as far as Newlands Cross and gardai moved in while he was stopped at traffic lights.
A search of the car led to the discovery of 1.6kg of cannabis herb, worth €32,000, in the shopping bag.
A follow-up search of the apartment led to the discovery of a further 4.1kg of cannabis worth an estimated value of €84,000 in a locked press in the hallway.
Sean Gillane SC, defending, told Judge Martin Nolan that his client and his two brothers held a record for the most members of the one family playing for Ireland at the same time.
He handed in a number of press cuttings into court showing Farrelly, as a 15-year-old, on his way to London to sign for Queen Park Rangers.