herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

All-Ireland 'spying' storm: Man was 'looking for apples'

The trees in the grounds of St Finan’s Hospital which overlook Fitzgerald Stadium where the Kerry team were training and (inset) Patrick Roarty
The trees in the grounds of St Finan’s Hospital which overlook Fitzgerald Stadium where the Kerry team were training and (inset) Patrick Roarty
Patrick Roarty

THIS is the Donegal man at the centre of All-Ireland final 'spying' allegations against Kerry footballers.

Patrick Roarty (43) is a civil servant from Donegal and hails from team boss Jim McGuinness's home town of Glenties.

The 'spying' incident occurred on Tuesday night in Kilarney where the Kerry team were training in Fitzgerald Stadium and has dominated talk of the clash between Kerry and Donegal in tomorrow's final.

It's understood Mr Roarty climbed a palm tree on the grounds of St Fenan's Hospital, the now vacant psychiatriac hospital in the town, to observe the closed training session.

He is said to have been rumbled when members of the Kerry back room team heard the noise of rustling branches.

Mr Roarty was confronted and ran off but dropped a card on the ground that revealed his identity.

Kerry County Board confirmed it is aware of the incident but had believed the training session was being recorded.

friends

Attempts to contact Mr Roarty last night were unsuccessful.

He played football with Mr McGuinness for the local club Naomh Conaill and they are understood to be close friends.

Mr Roarty is heavily involved in the Donegal Association in Kerry where he doubles as chief entertainer and is a semi- professional guitar player.

The married dad-of-three, who lives in Kilcummin, is also a member of Killarney Musical Society. Asked what he thought of Mr Roarty, former Donegal player John Gildea, who played with him at Naomh Conaill said: "Patrick is a great fella, a really decent and lovely lad."

Queried as to what Mr Roarty was doing up a tree overlooking the Kerry training pitch Gildea responded: "Sure it's September. He was probably just looking for apples."

Another friend of Mr Roarty's described him as a "lovely fella", a great family man and very involved in his adopted community.

"What was he at? Sure he lives and works in Kerry. He is a very nice lad though," the friend said.

Meanwhile, sources in the Donegal camp say they believe their training sessions were "observed" at least four times in the past few weeks. On all four occasions, people with camcorders drove off when challenged.

footballers

Asked about those alleged incidents, Gildea - one of Donegal's greatest footballers - insisted: "Maybe they were looking for apples too."

"The good thing about the [Donegal GAA'] centre of excellence in Convoy is that there isn't a tree for three miles around the place. It's not fertile ground for apples," he added.

hnews@herald.ie

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