DERRY City appear to be building a reputation as the “bad boys” of the Airtricity Premier Division having now had no fewer than SIX different players red carded this season to date.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
With defender Simon Madden having been prematurely directed to the dressing room against UCD last Friday night, the Dubliner joins Rory Patterson, Stewart Greacen, Barry Molloy, Patrick McEleney and Ryan McBride on the “red” list.
And given that the “Candy Stripes” have now received a total of 51 yellow cards this season already, it comes as no surprise that some pundits are pointing to disciplinary problems behind the scenes at Brandywell.
However, team boss, Declan Devine refutes those allegations and disputes any suggestion that his team has become the new “hatchet men” of the league.
In fact, Devine maintains that members of his playing staff have been the clear-cut victims of major refereeing blunders during the current campaign.
And the Derry boss backed his complaints up when pointing to last Friday night’s dismissal at the Belfield Bowl.
“Simon Madden was shown a second yellow card after he appeared to have been fouled by a UCD player,” insisted Devine.
And making matters all the more comical was the fact that the referee, Mr. James McKell, from Co. Tipperary, had to be informed by his fourth official that as Madden had been booked in the first half, he had to go!
Mr. McKell then sought out Madden before flashing his red card at the Derry player who now must sit out an automatic suspension for this Friday night’s home game against league leaders, Sligo Rovers.
Devine flatly rejected claims of indiscipline.
“The use of yellow cards this season by referees has caused us major problems. We have been the victims of some very poor decisions in that regard and Simon Madden certainly falls into that category when he was sent off against UCD last weekend,” declared Devine.
“It was an unbelievable decision at Belfield. Simon was shown a yellow card in the opening half for what I felt was an innocuous tackle, certainly not deserving of a yellow card.
“Then during the latter stages of the game he appeared to have been fouled by a UCD player and the referee booked him for diving! It was an amazing decision.
“Having shown Simon a yellow card, the referee waved him away but had to go after him when the fourth official informed him that Simon had already been booked. It was comical even though it was very serious as far as we were concerned,” continued Devine.
The Derry boss also maintained that some referees refused to take weather conditons into consideration when making decisions and opted to produce yellow cards for what he considered minor infringements.
“I don’t think there was a bad tackle in the UCD game and while the ground conditions had been difficult, the referee failed to take that into account.
“I would hold my hands up and accept that Ryan McBride deserved to be sent off in the League Cup game in Sligo and the same situation applies to Barry Molloy in Drogheda, but I would have to question the other four red cards.
“The sendings off have painted a picture that we are an over-robust, physical team which couldn’t be further from the truth,” insisted Devine.
“We try to play football at every opportunity. We’re certainly not a big side by any stretch of the imagination and we are certainly not a physical team.
“However, having had six players sent off and a total of 51 yellow cards shown at our players, referees seem to be adopting an attitude against us.
“And its not only a wrong attitude, it’s also a very unfair one. Referees are making mistakes, they’ve been flashing yellow cards for tackles which do not merit bookings and that causes major problems, especially when a team is working off a small panel like ourselves.
“I watched Bray play Sligo at the Showgrounds on Saturday and a Bray player was sent off for what I felt was a nothing tackle which was a second yellow for the player involved, so it’s not just happening at our games.”
Devine denied suggestions that Derry were a “physical side” pointing to the youth in the current squad.
Young and Inexperienced
“The reality is we are not a physical team. We’re not a big, strong side like Shelbourne for example. We are not a team which likes to ‘mix it’ on the pitch. It’s the total opposite, we are a very young, inexperienced side which tries to play football the way it should be played.
“However, I would agree that our disciplinary record doesn’t suggest that and I think it’s causing us a few problems with match officials. It’s certainly not a true reflection of the way we play.
“We do not send players out to dive into reckless tackles and if we felt our players had been reckless in such challenges, we would be taking action against them ourselves for losing their discipline.
“But referees have not helped our cause. Some decisions they have made have been very frustrating. It’s a constant worry given the size of our squad and, of course, the injury problems which have plagued us since the start of the current campaign,” concluded Devine.