Young ball girl left "petrified" by fireworks ordeal at Waterford FC game

Young ball girl left "petrified" by fireworks ordeal at Waterford FC game

AN 11-year-old ball girl was left petrified and crying after a firework passed straight over her head at the incident at the Shamrock Rovers and Waterford FC game on Friday night.

The young girl was in a group of 21 from Portlaw AFC who had been invited to be ball girls at the game at the RSC which saw fireworks explode over both the pitch and in the away supporters' section after 15 mins of the Premier Division match.

Ger Walsh, from Portlaw AFC, spoke to Damien Tiernan on Deise Today this morning (Monday).

He said the girls - all U-12 players with the Portlaw club -  had been invited to the game to be ball girls and were "excited to go" as some of them had never been at such an event before.


However, he said the incident with the fireworks had left many of them terrified - and he had to ring one parent afterwards whose child was "roaring crying" after one firework passed just over her head.

"She told us it had passed just over her head. She got some fright. We tried to console her. We'd never seen anything like it before," said the Portlaw coach.

"What are you going to say to her parents if you have to ring them and tell them something serious had happened. We would have felt responsible, even though we weren't responsible as such."

One man was injured in the incident on Friday night during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division game and was taken to UHW for treatment for his injuries which weren't life threatening.


Two arrests were made at the scene - a 23-year-old man and an 18-year-old man who were both taken to Waterford Garda Station and have since been released.

Gardai have said the investigations are ongoing.

The Shamrock Rovers club have also said they "unequivocally condemn" the action of the "so-called supporters" and have promised to co-operate fully with the Garda investigation. The club added that they would issuing indefinite bans from Tallaght Stadium to the people involved. Ger Walsh from Portlaw AFC told Damien Tiernan this morning that he "hopes" the incident would not put the children present off going to games again, or off the game of soccer.
He said Waterford FC officials had been extremely helpful and supportive on the night and he had also been contacted on Saturday by the club's Operations Director inviting the girls to attend the upcoming game against St Patrick's. Meanwhile, also speaking on Deise Today this morning, security expert Mark Dunne - whom has previously provided security at the RSC grounds - said he had dealt with a lot of incidents over the years but felt a "mixture of shock and disgust" about this one."I saw that little girl and it was just heartbreaking to watch her, to be that terrified."He said similar events to that which happened on Friday and happened a couple of times in the UK recently and every security person in a stadium was going to be looking for such devices from now on it."We dodged a bullet this time," he said, referring to the fact that it was lucky" there was nobody seriously injured or worse.

"Please God, it will sent out a message to people; this is not a place for fireworks."