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Boxing coach faces jail for pub headbutt

A HIGH ranking boxing official has been told he will likely be jailed for headbutting a man after an amateur exhibition bout.

Ciaran O'Neill (37), who is involved at a "very high level" in the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, assaulted his former best friend outside the pub which hosted the series of fights between Welsh and Irish boxers.

O'Neill, who is also the head coach at Balbriggan's Bracken Boxing Club, was one of the main organisers of the event.

His defence counsel said he was held in very high regard in the boxing community and that people were "queuing up" to give character references.

Several testimonials were handed in, including one from Olympic gold medal-winning boxer Michael Carruth and another stating that O'Neill's actions were "out of character."

O'Neill has six previous convictions including three for assault, one for intimidating a witness and one for making threats.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring commented that in light of his previous convictions, the attack did not seem very "out of character." She remanded O'Neill on bail until sentencing next week but indicated that prison is the likely option.



O'Neill, of Chieftain's Drive, Balbriggan, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Derek Gildea at the Milestone Bar in Balbriggan on January 29, 2010.

Garda Ciara Mannion told the court that Mr Gildea was attending the exhibition match upstairs in the pub when O'Neill approached him and told him he wasn't welcome and that he should "f*** off".

Mr Gildea responded that he had a right to be there and had paid to come in. The door staff stepped in and said Mr Gildea was entitled to stay.

There were several other exchanges between them before the end of the night when Mr Gildea went outside. A group of people including O'Neill were about to go to another pub and O'Neill told Mr Gildea that he wasn't welcome to join them.

He then approached the victim and headbutted him, leaving him with a black eye and a broken plate in his dentures. There was a further scuffle in which the victim was punched.

John Byrne, defending, said the pair used to be best friends and would spar in the boxing club before Mr Gildea quit.

He said O'Neill refereed boxing at a national and international level and was also involved in helping troubled youths and members of the Travelling community through the sport.

He added he had €1,500 as compensation and that the victim is prepared to accept this.