A Rovers supporter tries diplomacy with a PSNI officer. ©INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd
clash of the day

Football the loser on a 'sad night' as PSNI clash with Shamrock Rovers fans

An SDLP politician has called on the authorities to charge any supporters that engaged in violence or sectarian chanting.

THE CLASHES BETWEEN sections of the travelling Shamrock Rovers support and PSNI officers at Windsor Park has been roundly condemned.

Approximately 30 supporters engaged directly with the police officers moments after they broke through safety barricades and tore up seats in the Upper North Stand.

The majority of the Rovers fans were focused on the action out on the pitch – the Dubliners won 3-1 – but ugly scenes in the stands for the second game running marred Setanta Cup clash.

There were two public order offences arrests during the first-leg of the cup tie in Tallaght last week. During the game, which Rovers won 4-1, a Union Jack flag was raised, both sets of supporters invaded the pitch following goals.

A member of the gardaí was also treated in Tallaght Hospital following a fall from a Garda horse startled by a firecracker.

Freelance journalist Laure James reported that Rovers supporters ripped out seats in the stands and threw a flare onto the pitch to hold up play in the first half.

Following the second-leg defeat, Linfield manager David Jeffrey told the Belfast Telegraph, “All I will say is that it was a sad night for football and if anything football was the loser.”

Linfield’s Billy Joe Burns kicks a flare from the pitch. (©INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd)

SDLP MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) Conall McDevitt blasted the violent scenes that took place at Windsor Park last night.

“It appears that some Shamrock Rovers fans came to Belfast with the intent to engage in sectarian behaviour,” he declared. “This is totally unacceptable and will be condemned by true football fans across the Island.

“Whilst tonight’s scenes follow violence by Linfield fans during the first leg in Dublin it remains unjustified and totally unjustifiable.” He added:

Football has been dogged by sectarianism for decades. Events like tonight must resolve our determination to work together to eliminate sectarianism from football.

“It is a crime in Northern Ireland to engage in sectarian chanting or behaviour during a football game. I trust that the PSNI will be reviewing CCTV footage of fans tonight and take steps to prosecute where appropriate.”

Many Shamrock Rovers supporters voiced their displeasure with the supporters that clashed with the PSNI on the club’s Facebook page.

One supporter called on Rovers to assist the PSNI to identify any members of the travelling fans that engaged in violence or the chanting of sectarian songs.

Rovers advanced to the semi-finals of the cup with a comfortable victory over the hosts, which gave them a 7-2 aggregate victory.

Tommy Stewart scored a brace and Billy Dennehy added a third goal late in the piece. The Dublin side will play Cork City in the semi-finals.

PSNI clash with section of Shamrock Rovers fans during Setanta Cup game at Windsor Park

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