Northern Ireland

Youth arrested over assault at Cliftonville match

A 16-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with an assault at Solitude Football Ground in Belfast on Tuesday.

A Coleraine FC player was punched at the north Belfast ground after scoring the winning goal in a cup semi-final.

Johnny Black was punched after fans of Cliftonville FC ran onto the pitch at the final whistle of the game at their home ground.

The youth was released on police bail pending further enquiries.

Coleraine had just won the match 2-1 in extra-time to go through to the League Cup final.

Mr Black said: "I was just walking off to the tunnel and saw someone coming out of the corner of my eye and I got punched in the mouth," he added.

Calm restored

"There is no place in football for that kind of stuff."

There were also skirmishes between a small number of Cliftonville FC supporters and stewards before calm was restored.

Cliftonville said it would be investigating the incident.

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin condemned the incident and said it was regrettable that it had marred the game, "especially after Cliftonville had received so much positive publicity with their magnificent run of 14 victories and recent trophy win".

"I have every confidence that Cliftonville FC will investigate the matter fully and take the appropriate action," she said.

"I'm also sure Cliftonville will return to making the headlines for all the right reasons in what has been a great season so far."

'Tarnish club'

In a statement on Tuesday, the club said it would look closely at the events and would, with the help of the IFA, take appropriate action in addressing any issues arising from its investigation.

"Cliftonville Football Club wishes to condemn any persons involved in actions that tarnish our club," the statement said.

"Numerous people work tirelessly for the good of our club as volunteers, both on match days and throughout the season, and such incidents are not a just reward for their efforts nor for supporters, or indeed players."

Coleraine manager Oran Kearney praised the actions of the Cliftonville stewards in dealing with the trouble.

"It is by no means the fault of Cliftonville, that could have happened at our ground," he said.

"It is as simple as that, when emotions run high at the end of games you can't legislate for every single person that walks into your ground.

"In no shape or form would we blame Cliftonville, I think their stewards did a great job trying to get people off the pitch."

Cliftonville's defeat brought their run of 14 successive victories to an end.

Coleraine play Cliftonville again on Saturday in a Premier Division match at Solitude.

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