November 2017

Ex-GAA coach handed 7 more years for sex abuse


A former GAA football coach has been jailed for seven years for dozens of indecent assaults on two boys in the 1970s.

Ronan McCormack, 75, a farmer from Cloonloo, Co Sligo, went on to groom and abuse schoolboys as young as ten in the 1980s. In 2014 he was jailed for seven years and ten months for those assaults.

He was convicted this year of 14 charges of indecently assaulting two boys aged between seven and 13.

McCormack, a father of three, had pleaded not guilty to 26 charges of indecent assault against one boy between June 1972 and March 1975. He also denied three charges of indecently assaulting a second boy between August 1972 and December 1973.

May 2014

Former GAA coach sexually abused 5 schoolboys

A former Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) coach has been convicted of a series of sex assaults on schoolboys in the Republic of Ireland.

Ronan McCormack, 71, was found guilty of 53 out of 54 charges of indecent assault on five boys aged between nine and 13 years.

The offences happened in the 1980s when he was 39 to 44-years-old.

The father of three girls conned families into believing some of them could stay safely at his home.

McCormack, a farmer from Cuppanagh, Cloonloo, County Sligo, who coached the under-12 team at Eastern Harps GAA Club in nearby Keash, abused boys on trips to the Croke Park sports stadium in Dublin.

The 71-year-old’s horrifying list of crimes included:

  • Indecently assaulting a young boy during a match while he was umpiring an Under-12s game

  • He abused one young victim during a trip to Croke Park to watch an All Ireland match

  • He conned some of the parents of his victims into allowing them to stay at his home overnight

  • He persuaded an 11-year-old boyto examine a county championship medal in his darkened bedroom and then sexually assaulted him, and

  • He also assaulted boys in his car, at a breakfast table in his kitchen and on fishing trips to lakes and rivers.

McCormack’s trial lasted two and a half weeks and heard of his abuse of the children when he was aged between 39 and 44

The court heard how on one occasion, while umpiring an Under-12s football game, he indecently assaulted one of the goalkeepers on the football pitch while the rest of the team was up the field.

The first witness told how the coach persuaded him when he was 11 to examine a county championship medal in his darkened bedroom and then sexually assaulted him for the first time.

McCormack then drove him home to have tea with the boy’s mother.

The first victim also told the court it has haunted him to this day that he didn’t run home before he was indecently assaulted by the coach after being invited into his bedroom.

McCormack showed him textbooks detailing the reproductive systems of men and women.

The victim said: “He told me about the birds and the bees, how everything works, how people make love.”

McCormack was also accused of indecent assault against one victim when he was aged 10 at a football pitch near his home and when he was 11 after they had been to Croke Park.

One of the victims, now aged 43, told of being sexually abused several times as a 12-year-old before two Croke Park games in 1983.

He was indecently assaulted at the coach’s home before the Donegal-Galway semi-final and before the All-Ireland final between Dublin and Galway.

The victim said: “I would have to stay over at his house the night before because he wanted to get to Mass before going on the train.”

He added before the semi-final the coach arrived in a bedroom naked and climbed into the bed beside him with the words, “Don’t be shy”.

Vile McCormack then indecently assaulted him a number of times during the night.

The sexual assaults were repeated the following month on the night before Dublin’s win over Galway.

Two of the victims are now aged 41 and two are 43. The fifth is 38.

During the trial the jury heard horrific evidence of how McCormack touched the boys’ genitals and how some of them were forced to touch him in the same area.

One of the victims, now aged 43, said he was only 11 when McCormack brought him to a lake where he used to fish – but without fishing rods.

Another told of an attack in his parents’ home while his mother was in another room making tea for McCormack.

The man told the court the incident happened when he came home from a football tournament when he was 11 years old at the end of 1983.

McCormack sat down while the boy’s mother went to the kitchen to make tea.

McCormack, who was then in his early 40s, asked the boy if he wanted to sleep over in his house that night.

The victim then said he would have to ask his mother and McCormack asked him to sit closer.

He was wearing a tracksuit bottoms with a rip and McCormack put his finger through the hole and fondled his genital area “for a few seconds up to a minute”.

McCormack then moved his hand away quickly when the lad’s mother returned with the tea.

The child still asked his mother if he could sleep over at McCormack’s house and she said he could.

At the coach’s home the boy was given sweets as he watched television.

He later went to bed in a back room which had a single bed and McCormack came in.

The victim recalled: “He said, ‘A little man knocked on the back door at night and that he wasn’t nice’.

“He told me you better come and sleep with me. He brought me to his bedroom where there was a double bed.”

McCormack started to fondle the child who didn’t know what was happening.

The victim told the court: “I didn’t like it and it was hurting me. I got up and ran off into my own room.

“He asked me if I was all right and I said I was even though I wasn’t.”

The court was told the next morning at breakfast McCormack was very nice, and praised the child before sitting close to him again and fondling his genital area.

Judge Petria McDonnell told the jury: “The complainants were dishonoured as children and you have now honoured them in your work as jurors.”

She rejected a prosecution application that McCormack be remanded in custody when told he required time before sentencing to deal with family affairs.

He was remanded on bail for sentence on June 17.