Antrim GAA issue apology after Stephen McCoy refused entry to Cargin vs Lamh Dhearg final

Stephen McCoy following Saturday's game via phone.

ANTRIM GAA has apologised after Stephen McCoy was refused entry to the county championship replay on Saturday.

Lifelong Cargin fan Stephen was left having to watch the game on his phone after he was refused entry to the replay against Lamh Dhearg at Corrigan Park in Belfast.

There were emotional scenes on Saturday night when the victorious Cargin team brought the cup to Stephen.

 

The 47-year-old was left using a wheelchair having survived the Kegworth Air Disaster in January 1989.

He was once a promising boxer with the All Saints Club in Ballymena.

Posted by Michaela Mc Gorrey on Saturday, 12 October 2019

Stephen was in a coma for 18 months and was discharged from hospital three years later with life-changing injuries, he was brain damaged and paralysed down one side of his body.

Taking to Facebook, his niece Michaela posted a picture of Stephen watching the match on his phone saying: “Stephen McCoy watching the Cargin and Lamh Dhearg match he had his ticket and all bought but was turned away because they had no room because he was in a wheel chair I think this is disgusting..Stephen never complains at all but deep down we know Stephen struggles daily..I don’t normally do this but this isn’t fair and breaks my heart.”

Cargin won the replay by three goals and 16 points to 23 points.

Antrim GAA has since issued an apology to Stephen saying he was refused entry as he had arrived after 2pm.

The statement from County Chairman Ciarán McCavana said: “Stephen a chara.

“On behalf of Antrim GAA I would like to apologise. It was brought to my attention that you did not gain access to the ground due to arriving after 2pm. I walked to the entrance to ensure your access but you had driven on. I then spoke to your chairman to contact you to return and I would ensure entry.

“St John’s had a memorial event on today and new volunteers were manning the gate and were told to adhere to Belfast city council rule of no car access after 2pm. Once again I apologise for this.”

Posted by Michaela Mc Gorrey on Saturday, 12 October 2019

In a touching gesture the victorious Cargin team visited Stephen in his home on Saturday evening with the cup.

Responding to the apology, Stephen’s niece Michaela McGorrey told Belfast Live: “The team visited Stephen on their return home as they were unaware at the time that Stephen’s entry had been refused.

“This gives Stephen some comfort however it did not detract from the fact that he had missed the winning atmosphere at the match.

“However, Stephen is not alone as there were many others whose entry was refused. As for the statement I feel it is too little too late.

“Their response that St. John’s had another event on today and therefore new volunteers were manning the gate and were told to adhere to Belfast City Council rule of no car access after 2pm, however this is not a fact that was highlighted when Stephen obtained his parking pass.

“I believe this is an issue that needs to be highlighted within the GAA and all events, be it sporting or otherwise. Adequate facilities should be in place at all events for people with disabilities and wheel chair users and by not doing so they are in fact discriminating against people with disabilities.

“All we want from this is for Stephen to be fit to enjoy events the same as everyone else.”

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