MULLUMBIMBY under-15 rugby league player Kurt Mulcahy at home recovering from a broken back.
MULLUMBIMBY under-15 rugby league player Kurt Mulcahy at home recovering from a broken back.

Final punch-up

By ROXANNE MILLAR

KURT Mulcahy will always remember winning his rugby league grand final, but not for the reasons most would imagine. The talented centre for Mullumbimby's under-15 Giants spent post-game celebrations in immense pain at The Tweed Hospital. In a melee in the final moments of the game, Mulcahy had his back broken, allegedly by opposing Cudgen Hornets under-15 players. With the score 24-22 and the referee signalling a penalty, Mulcahy ran with the ball only to face a situation that turned violent in minutes. Witnesses reported seeing Cudgen players turn on the team and throw punches. The violence spilled over into the crowd, with some fans attacking coaches. During the brawl, Mulcahy ended up sprawled on the field with what was later diagnosed as a broken back. He could not move and will be unable to exercise for up to 10 weeks as the broken bone in the base of his spine heals. He has suffered nerve damage that gives him burning pain in his hip and only just began walking again on Thursday. Remarkably, Mulcahy holds no grudges against the teenagers who caused his injuries. "It happened and I am going to leave it at that," he said. "I think they are sorry about it now and that it was just a brain explosion, a spur of the moment thing that got out of hand. I can understand it. "It probably happened to me because I was the last person to take the ball up. I'd hope they don't have anything against me." Witnesses at the game said it was the worst behaviour they had seen on a football field. Mulcahy said it had been one of the best games of the year until the incident. "They were one of the best-disciplined sides all year, we never had a fight or arguments. I actually play representative football with them." Three Cudgen players are believed to have been given four, eight and 12-week suspensions from the game at Thursday night's judiciary proceedings. Judiciary chairman Chris Gallagher said he could not release details because the players were minors and the proceedings confidential. Mullumbimby Junior Rugby League Club president Leon Reid said despite the brawl he was proud of his club's team. "I impressed to our team that I was proud the way they handled themselves. Not one of our players threw a punch, they actually tried to flee the melee," he said. Mulcahy said the incident had soured their nail-biting grand final win and his chances at the national athletics in Sydney next weekend.



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