Former GAA coach given jail sentence for abuse

Friday 25 July 2014 17.15
Ronan McCormack was imprisoned for 53 of 54 charges of indecent assault on five boys
Ronan McCormack was imprisoned for 53 of 54 charges of indecent assault on five boys

A former Gaelic football coach has been given a seven-year-and-ten-month jail sentence and placed on the list of sex offenders for a series of sex assaults on schoolboys.

Judge Petria McDonnell, who suspended two years of the sentence, described 72-year-old Ronan McCormack as a man who "groomed" schoolboy footballers aged between the ages of ten and 13 for sex abuse.

She said he had still not expressed remorse.

Judge McDonnell said as a football coach trusted by parents, teachers and children there was definite predatory grooming by McCormack.

The judge said during a three-hour sentencing in which she heard victim impact reports: "He picked the teams, awarded the medals, appointed captains and tickets for matches. He was trusted by the children and their parents."

"He had imposed childhood agonies on them and embarrassment and difficulties in relationships, loss of interest in schooling and lifetime effects".

McCormack was imprisoned for 53 of 54 charges of indecent assault on five boys.

The former Telecom Éireann worker, a father of three and farmer from Cuppanagh, Cloonloo, Co Sligo, coached the under-12 team at Eastern Harps GAA Club in nearby Keash.

He was convicted during a two-and-a-half week trial earlier this year of indecent assaults in his home, in his car, at a breakfast table in his kitchen, on fishing trips and on lakes and rivers,

On one occasion he abused a schoolboy when showing him a county championship medal which he won with the club.

Sligo Circuit Court heard of his abuses against the children when he was aged between 39 and 44.

He conned their families into believing some of them could safely overnight at his home.

The offences were committed between October 1981 and August 1986.

During that time McCormack coached four of the boys for the Eastern Harps under-12 team. The fifth became known to him through a family friendship. All parents trusted him with their boys.

Judge McDonnell was told of an expert's report that indicated McCormack, who continued to maintain his innocence of the offences, expressed no remorse.

Defence counsel Delia Flynn, SC, asked the judge to note that any sentence would have an impact on McCormack's wife and three daughters, one of whom was in need of special care.