Brighton and Hove Albion footballer George O'Callaghan has been banned from the road after driving through a red light while drunk.

O'Callaghan was stopped in his native Ireland after police saw him go through the red light in the early hours of the morning while two and a half times over the drink-drive limit.

But the midfielder will still be allowed to drive in the UK because his alcohol ban only covers roads in the Republic of Ireland.

O'Callaghan moved to Albion in a loan deal from Ipswich in August after a permanent transfer fell through.

He has impressed in the eight games he has played and fans are keen to see him extend his current deal beyond January.

The 28-year-old appeared at Cork Circuit Court to appeal against a conviction for the driving offence he committed in 2004.

Garda Oliver Ahern testified that he saw O'Callaghan driving through a red light on the South Douglas Road at 2.40am and signalled for the driver to stop.

He said O'Callaghan's eyes were blurry and there was a strong smell of intoxicating liquor from his breath.

Sergeant Dan O'Connor said the footballer admitted later in Bridewell police station that "he had seven or eight pints, a few shorts and a few cocktails".

Defence barrister Donal O'Sullivan said O'Callaghan was detained for too long at Bridewell following his arrest on October 13, 2004.

He said the Irish police were not responsible for all of the delays but could be specifically blamed for 59 minutes of the total time O'Callaghan spent in custody.

The court heard one of the delays occurred when police could not find a jug for the footballer, of Lisduff, Whitechurch, County Cork, to give a urine sample.

He later gave a blood sample which showed he was well over the limit at 201 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The limit is 80mg.

But the court rejected O'Callaghan's arguments and banned him from driving for two years while handing him a Ä300 (£208) fine.

Yesterday the footballer told The Argus: "This was something which happened three years ago, but has only now come to court in Ireland. I sincerely regret what I did and apologise, but I have learned from my mistake."

O'Callaghan began his career with Port Vale but moved back to Ireland to play for his hometown team Cork City. After impressing in the Eircom league he was signed by Ipswich Town in January. A lack of first-team opportunities at Portman Road led to the central midfielder's move to Albion.

A club spokesman said: "The offence occurred prior to George's arrival with the club, and also prior to his arrival at Ipswich. We do not condone his actions, but as far as the club is concerned the matter is closed."