A top player in the Danske Bank Premiership has been banned from driving for 14 months for getting behind the wheel with excess alcohol after watching the World Cup Final on TV.
Coleraine FC player Ian Parkhill (28), of Stuart Park, Ballymoney, was detected in the early hours of Monday July 16 this year.
He had watched France beat Croatia 4-2 in the global showpiece and then got into a white BMW.
At Circular Road, Coleraine, police were driving behind Parkhill and they noticed the car swerving over the central lines.
They followed the vehicle into Union Street and stopped it at Brook Street around 1am.
Parkhill was in the dock at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday where a prosecutor said officers detected a smell of intoxicating liquor from the defendant on the date in question and his speech was slurred.
He had an alcohol reading of 91 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35mcgs.
Parkhill played in this year’s Tennent’s Irish Cup Final when Coleraine beat Cliftonville 3-1 and he was an unused substitute in their league match, again against Cliftonville, last Saturday, when his team won 2-1.
Parkhill, a father-of-three, pleaded guilty to a charge of driving with excess alcohol in his breath.
The court heard he had a previously clear record.
A defence lawyer said his client had no criminal record whatsoever and had been driving for four years without incident.
“He had gone out to watch the World Cup Final on Sunday evening. One drink turned into several and he made the stupid decision to drive home,” added the legal representative.
The lawyer said Parkhill was a “very talented footballer” who has played at the highest level in Northern Ireland and has won major honours with Coleraine.
Deputy District Judge Laura Ievers said it was a “very high reading”.
The defendant was banned from driving for 14 months but was deemed suitable for doing a drink driving course which, if completed, will reduce the ban by a quarter.
He will have to re-sit his driving test before going back on the road.
Parkhill was also fined £300.