A GAA star who admitted attacking an elderly man with his own walking stick after a row at a chip shop has escaped going to jail.
Judge Paul Kelly told Tyrone player Dean McNally he can consider himself “extremely lucky” after he struck out the charges against him.
McNally (27) previously appeared at Letterkenny District Court in Co Donegal after being told to pay victim Eugene Ferry €2,000.
The court heard there had been a verbal row at a chip shop involving McNally, two of his friends, and Mr Ferry, who was using a walking stick.
The row spilled out onto the street outside the Downings Bay Hotel on the night of March 4, 2017. Once outside, McNally broke Mr Ferry’s walking stick on the ground. Mr Ferry was then pushed to the ground and hurt his hand.
McNally, of Cabhan Alvinn, Pomeroy, Dungannon, Co Tyrone, then threw a part of the walking stick at the elderly man, hitting him on the back. The court heard both McNally and his two friends then began to verbally abuse Mr Ferry.
The victim made a complaint to bouncers who contacted gardaí. Garda Colm McConigley viewed CCTV footage of the attack and was able to identify McNally as the culprit.
McNally’s solicitor, Kieran O’Gorman, said his client never meant to get involved in any row. The court heard he is engaged to be married.
The GAA player was charged with being intoxicated, using threatening and abusive language and also assault.
A victim impact statement was handed into court.
McNally told the court: “I apologise for what happened and I should not have been involved.”
The court was initially told that €500 had been paid to Mr Ferry as compensation, but Mr Ferry said this was not the case.
He added he had been offered €100 but nothing ever came of it. The judge asked if two other accused men involved in the case had appeared before the court.
He said: “I’m curious about the other two individuals. The injured party said he was attacked by three males outside the chip shop.
“Is he covering up for other people is the question I’m asking.”
Garda Inspector Goretti Sheridan told the court it was a bouncer outside the premises who identified McNally and no other people were sought in connection with the attack.
The judge ordered that €2,000 be handed over to Mr Ferry and that another €500 lodged in court by McNally be given to the victim.
“On that basis, I will strike out the charges against him…He can consider himself very lucky,” he added.
Last year, while on a stag party in Las Vegas, McNally was locked up for three weeks after being accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl.
“They accused me of touching the bum of a 12-year-old girl while walking down the street. It was completely untrue,” he said later.
Despite maintaining his innocence, he said he was forced to accept a lesser charge of ‘simple battery’ rather than spend two years in jail awaiting trial.