Former GAA coach Ronan McCormack, 71, abused 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.

At Sligo Circuit Court on Tuesday, he was convicted of indecent assaults in his home, in his car, at a breakfast table in his kitchen, on fishing trips and on lakes and rivers.

The jury of 11 men and one woman heard that the offences were committed between October 1981 and August 1986.

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

Championship Medal

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

The coach then drove him home to have tea with his mother.

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.

"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 said.

He added that before the semi-final, McCormack arrived in a bedroom naked and climbed into the bed beside him with the words: "Don't be shy."

Then the coach 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 years old.

Judge Petria McDonnell rejected a prosecution application that McCormack be remanded in custody when she was told that he needed time to deal with family affairs before he was sentenced.

He was remanded on bail for reports and is due to be sentenced on 17 June.

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