GAA and Irish League star handed driving ban

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A dual GAA and Irish League football star has admitted driving with excess alcohol - almost three times the legal limit - and has been banned from the road for 16 months and fined £725.

County Derry gaelic footballer and Glenavon soccer player Eoin Bradley (32), of Woodland Park, Kilrea, was in Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday March 21 where he pleaded guilty to several charges.

Defence solicitor Brendan McLarnon said Bradley, who was previously on the books at Coleraine, had been playing for his local GAA team on Sunday February 7 this year and after stopping off at a pub in Garvagh to watch a soccer match he began drinking before driving home.

Five miles away at Kilrea he hit a parked car as he pulled up and after getting into a “kerfuffle” with a man in the damaged car he refused to provide his identity or give his details before going into a pub.

However, Mr McLarnon said his client is well-known in the area and he was always going to be caught.

In court on Monday Bradley pleaded guilty to charges that on Sunday February 7 this year at The Diamond in Kilrea he was driving with excess alcohol in his breath, with a reading of 99, which was almost three times the legal limit of 35.

He also admitted driving without due care and attention at Coleraine Street in Kilrea when he collided with a parked car and instead of sorting the matter out he left the scene and went to a pub.

Bradley further pleaded guilty to failing to report and remain at the scene of the accident.

He also admitted other charges relating to August 15 last year regarding used a mobile phone whilst driving at The Diamond in Kilrea and failing to produce a driving licence.

The offences of February 7 happened five days before Bradley was sent off whilst playing for Lurgan-based Glenavon in an Irish League match against Crusaders on Friday February 12 and received a six match ban.

Bradley is well-known on the GAA scene and has represented County Derry and has also been lashing in the goals for Glenavon recently.

A prosecutor told the court at 9pm on February 7 police received a 999 call that a highly intoxicated man came out of a bar and got into a car drove towards Kilrea and police located the vehicle a short time later in Kilrea where it emerged the vehicle had struck another car.

Police were told Bradley did not provide his name and address to the owner of the damaged car but that he said he would pay for the damage.

Police located him in a nearby pub and arrested him.

Defence solicitor Mr McLarnon said Bradley had not intended to drink but after stopping in the Garvagh bar he “gave into temptation” and that the collision with the parked car was slight and the damage has now been paid for.

He said there was a “kerfuffle” and a “verbal altercation” and Bradley went into the bar but there was no likelihood he would not be made amenable as the other person knew who he was.

Mr McLarnon said Bradley regrets the events and as a self-employed plasterer and a semi-professional soccer player - which requires him driving 120 mile round trips to go to matches and training - there will be a “serious impact” by the loss of his licence arising out of “one afternoon of foolishness”.

During police interview, the solicitor said Bradley said he would take full responsibility for all matters.

Regarding the offences of last year, he said Bradley had a very busy “chaotic lifestyle” and that accounted for him not paying a fixed penalty notice regarding the mobile phone offence and when he remembered to leave his licence in it was too late.

District Judge Liam McNally said it was the third conviction for using a mobile phone whilst driving and Mr McLarnon said the “penny has now dropped. He is going to have to obey the rules. This is a watershed for him.”

Judge McNally said it was a bad case with a number of aggravating features including the high alcohol reading and Bradley’s involvement in an accident when he went into a pub rather than meet his responsibilities.

Banning Bradley from driving for a year and four months, for which he will have to re-sit his test, and imposing fines of £725 he warned the sports star if the fines are not paid on time he could go to jail for a short time.