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Dean Shiels tangles with Cork City's Colin Healy while playing for Dundalk in the 2016 FAI Cup final.
Dean Shiels tangles with Cork City's Colin Healy while playing for Dundalk in the 2016 FAI Cup final.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

Falkirk issue apology over 'abhorrent' abuse of ex-Dundalk player by fans

Dean Shiels, who had surgery to remove his right eye in 2006, was taunted with fake eyeballs yesterday.
Jan 3rd 2018, 2:48 PM 9,624 8

SCOTTISH SECOND-TIER OUTFIT Falkirk have issued a statement in which the club apologised on behalf of a section of its supporters who threw fake eyeballs at Dunfermline Athletic player Dean Shiels.

The incident occurred during yesterday’s Scottish Championship fixture between the two clubs, which ended in a 2-0 win for Dunfermline.

Shiels, who in 2006 had surgery to remove his right eye as a result of a childhood accident, was targeted by members of the travelling support at the derby game at East End Park.

It follows a similar incident that took place when the clubs met in October. After Shiels was sent off for a tackle on Joe McKee, Falkirk’s Kevin O’Hara was suspended for eight matches and McKee received a four-match ban after both players were charged with “excessive misconduct” for abuse of Shiels over the loss of his eye.

A statement released by Falkirk Football Club last night reads:

Falkirk FC apologises unreservedly to Dean Shiels and Dunfermline Athletic FC for the abhorrent behaviour of a small number of individuals at this afternoon’s Ladbrokes Championship match. The club wholeheartedly condemns the abuse witnessed towards Dean Shiels in the strongest terms and will be working closely with Dunfermline Athletic FC to identify those responsible. Abuse towards anyone with a disability is simply unacceptable and the fact this took place within a sporting context with rivalries at play is no excuse. This needs to stop now. Disability Awareness Training is already being delivered to all staff and players at Falkirk FC and we take our commitment to equality seriously. We will look to take action against anyone identified from today’s game and will not allow this disgraceful behaviour to be repeated.

Shiels, whose father Kenny is the current manager of Derry City, joined Dunfermline last summer after spending time in Canada with FC Edmonton.

The 32-year-old midfielder, who has been capped 14 times at senior level by Northern Ireland, played with Dundalk in 2016 after a four-year spell with Rangers came to an end.

After yesterday’s game, Dunfermline Athletic manager Allan Johnston praised Shiels for keeping his cool in spite of the abuse that was directed at him from the stands.

Dean Shiels celebrates his goal Shiels celebrates after scoring for Dundalk against Crumlin United in the third round of the 2016 FAI Cup. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Johnston told the club’s official website: “You never like to hear stuff like that. It’s poor. That’s why guys like Dean Shiels, it’s great discipline he showed. The whole team showed that.

“That’s why it was important to get the win as well, when stuff like that is going on in the background. Saying that, I think a lot of them left early so they probably didn’t see too much.”

Johnston added: “He [Shiels] has had a lot to deal with, but I think the whole club have. I think we have dealt with it professionally but you just have to move on. It’s unacceptable in this day and age.

“The most important thing was getting the win, especially against Falkirk when you see the rivalry.”

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Paul Dollery


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