Ex-GAA player Peadar Heffron has said he remains “very bitter” at his former club for not standing by him after he was blown up by dissident republicans.
Following his decision to join the ranks of the newly formed PSNI in 2002, the Co Antrim man claimed he was shunned by his beloved club Creggan Kickhams.
And after an under-car booby trap bomb left him wheelchair bound in 2010, Peadar claimed the club continued to snub him.
Breaking his seven-year silence about the attack which resulted in his right leg being amputated, Peadar spoke candidly to GAA pundit and columnist Joe Brolly about his experiences.
In the article, published in the Sunday Independent, Peadar said: “After the bomb, not even a letter from the club. Two of the committee visited my parents’ house when I was in a coma.
“My father Frank played for Creggan, was the club referee and the treasurer. They said to him when they arrived, ‘We are not here on behalf of the club, only in a personal capacity’.
“I’d be fairly certain guys I played with passed on my details to others.”
Peadar – who helped the club to the Antrim Intermediate Championship title on two occasions – also recalled how his team-mates had been “stunned into silence” when he announced his plans to join the PSNI.
In his article, Mr Brolly wrote: “No one supported him. His boyhood friends never spoke to him again. He went to the first training session, and when he went into the changing room the chatter stopped.
“Out on the field, the manager ignored him. When teams were picked for training games, he was left standing. No one passed him the ball or acknowledged him.”
He claimed that he pleaded with one club official for his support, only to be told: “I can’t son. I can’t do that.”
He said another official told him he was putting the club in a “very awkward position”.
Peadar also claimed he was later approached by local republican activists during a training session, who handed him a leaflet warning against the dangers of joining the PSNI.
“I got into my car, drove home and never came back. It had gotten too personal. Too serious,” he added.
Creggan Kickhams, based near Randalstown, Co Antrim told the News Letter it did not wish to comment on Peadar’s remarks.
Peadar also vividly recalled the horrific moment the under-car bomb exploded and left him with life-changing injuries.
He recounted how he had been on his way to work on a snowy January morning in 2010 when the blast happened.
In an interview with GAA pundit Joe Brolly, published in the Sunday Independent, Peadar said: “A half-mile from the house, I felt a bang and the car spun off the road. I looked down and my legs were on fire.
“I tried to climb out but for some reason my legs wouldn’t work. I pulled myself out by my arms and rolled on to the ground on my back. I felt no pain. I just couldn’t feel my legs.”
Peadar’s wife Fiona – also a PSNI officer – was first on the scene after the blast.
After Peadar had been lifted into the ambulance, she looked in his car and found a hole in the driver’s seat the size of a football and knew immediately what had happened.
Breaking the devastating news to her husband as he lay strapped down in an ambulance, Fiona said: “It was a bomb, Peadar. An under-car booby trap.”
In his article, Mr Brolly told how Peadar flew into a terrible rage, shouting: “The b******* got me, they got me.”
Peadar suffered extensive damage to his lower body and lost his right leg. He is now confined to a wheelchair and uses urostomy and colostomy bags.