The Laois Gaelic football team captain, Colm Parkinson, has pleaded guilty to two assault charges after a nightclub disturbance in Athlone.

Mr Parkinson, 26, from Meelick in Portlaoise, was charged with assaulting two men in separate incidents inside and outside Bozos nightclub at Church St in Athlone in the early hours of Sunday, 24 October last.

However, Judge Michael Reilly adjourned the case after hearing that two national tabloid newspapers, the Irish Star and the Irish Mirror, had published pre-trial stories in relation to the case.

Judge Reilly made his comments after Mr Parkinson's solicitor, Padraig Quinn, had complained about the intense media publicity his client had been subjected to.

'My client was scandalised and demonised by some elements of the media, he has already paid a very high price,' said Mr Quinn.

The judge said he had the 'utmost faith' in the integrity of the press, and was completely confident in their coverage of the case. He said he had not seen any pre-trial publicity, but when handed copies of both papers, he said he was 'surprised', and that it was 'serious'.

Earlier the court heard from Inspector Tom Curley, who said that in relation to the first assault, victim Patrick Macken was sitting in a toilet in a nightclub texting friends when he was assaulted by Mr Parkinson.

The lock on the toilet door was broken, and the court heard Mr Parkinson, in a drunken state, had pushed the door in a number of times.

Mr Parkinson stopped, but moments later another man came into the toilet and pushed the door in. An altercation followed, which ended in Mr Parkinson swinging twice toward Mr Macken, but CCTV footage showed he did not hit him.

 In the second incident, the court heard Mr Parkinson had arrived outside a chip shop some time later where a row was already going on, and he had got involved by punching the second victim, Kevin Hanly, who was lying on the ground.

Mr Parkinson and two friends were subsequently arrested by gardaí in relation to the incidents.

Mr Parkinson's solicitor told the court there were three protagonists involved in the assaults, and his client had only a peripheral involvement.

Mr Quinn said his client held a finance degree, and was a star GAA player. He said he came from an upstanding family and had a very good reputation.

Mr Quinn said his client had ambitions to travel to Australia, but a conviction would ruin these long held plans. 'He is not a bad person, this was totally out of character,' said the solicitor.

Mr Quinn said he wanted to ask, and he accepted it as a huge ask, if the judge would consider not recording a verdict against his client in light of the circumstances.

Judge Reilly adjourned the case until Tuesday, 16 November.