Sectarianism Alive and Well as Match in Northern Ireland Descends Into Anarchy

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Sectarianism Alive and Well as Match in Northern Ireland Descends Into Anarchy

Sectarianism, bigotry and mindless hatred may have become bywords of a bygone age in Northern Ireland, but they reared their ugly heads in spectacular fashion this weekend as the IFA Cup game between Larne and Newry City descended into chaos.

The match had to be abandoned with just eight minutes to go as tensions and hatred boiled over following some rash challenges from both teams.

There was no hint of the trouble and violence to come when Matt Hazley put Newry ahead 2-1 with 14 minutes to go. However, mere moments passed before Liam Hogan received a straight red after an incident with Darren King. The Larne captain picked up the Newry full back by the face before screaming into it.

It was the catalyst of six minutes of pure madness.

King was then on the receiving end of another terrible tackle which resulted in another straight red for the "Harbour Rats" who were now down to nine men and losing.

Seconds later, all hell broke loose.

Larne manager Paul Millar raced up the touchline to confront one of the referee's assistants after the send off. He was pursued by Newry assistant Harry Fay as a massive argument broke out on the sidelines.

It was to be the catalyst for a major rush from the dugouts as clashes occurred all over the pitch. Players, substitutes, officials and some fans clashed as violence consumed the pitch.

The worst of which saw Newry's Cullen Feeney being attacked by two Larne players, one a substitute, as he lay on the ground.

"It all happened so quickly. It's a bit of a blur now. It wasn't until I saw pictures in the papers that I saw how serious it was," said Feeney last night.

"It's the worst thing that I have ever been involved in during my football career, and I'm lucky I suppose that I wasn't seriously hurt," he added.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland have launched a major investigation into the ugly incident.

Larne have always had affiliations with protestantism in Northern Ireland, while Newry has close links with Catholicism.

Before the match there was no evidence to suggest that something of this magnitude was capable of happening, but that horse has bolted. Now the IFA, the PSNI and the political party's in Northern Ireland will have to deal with this incendiary issue.

For the last 10 years, sectarianism has been on the wane in Northern Ireland. Almost every paramilitary has agreed to the cessation of violence and has de-commissioned their many weapons.

This has in turn, made Northern Ireland a desirable country for many organizations and companies to locate.

On it's own, this incident will do nothing to deflect all the good work on both sides since the Good Friday Agreement. But it is a reminder that there is still some simmering differences between the two societies.

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