RUAIDHRI Higgins has become the latest Derry City player to be the victim of a ‘card happy’ referee according to assistant boss, Paul Hegarty as the midfielder is set to miss this weekend’s trip to Dundalk through suspension.
The Limavady man was shown a yellow card by referee, Damien Hancock during Friday’s defeat to Sligo but a frustrated Hegarty has called on the FAI to put an end to the referee’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy.
“I felt a lot of the 50/50 decisions went against us on Friday,” said Hegarty. “As regards to the FAI and the bookings situation it’s very hard to describe what’s going on at the minute, I just don’t understand it.
“The referee booked Conor Murphy in the first half and he didn’t actually see what happened.
“Conor went to block with his foot on the ground and Gavin Peers followed through and kicks his shin pad. The referee heard the noise and books Conor and for the life of me I just don’t understand that. If you don’t see it how can you make a judgement on it?
“We’ve had a few players sent off this season and, without a shadow of a doubt, at least four of those should never have taken place yet we’ve never had an apology for those sending offs or anything else.
“Nobody’s ever said afterwards that ‘we’ve made a mistake’ and nothing ever happens and it’s very disappointing. We’re suffering because of it.
“I’ve seen quite a few decisions of a similar kind and I couldn’t understand it. There’s been a lot of decisions like that this year and where they’re going with it is beyond me, I’ve no idea where it’s heading to.”
And Hegarty believes the amount of suspensions to key players is ultimately affecting the quality on show during Premier Division games.
“At the end of the day a lot of clubs will end up with a lot their best players in the stands and that can’t be right in the day and age where you’re trying to get people through the gates and you want your best players on show to make a decent game of it.
“It doesn’t matter what I say, I’ve had my say on numerous occasions this year to referees after games and it doesn’t make a difference what I say, the referees are going to do what they want.
“I’ve spoken to the head of the referees when we were down in Cork the night Stewart Greacen got sent off and it didn’t make any difference.
“There’s something out there with referees at the minute, it’s a zero tolerance. If you tackle now and if you mistime a tackle it’s a yellow card straight away.”
Hegarty had little complaints about the final result on Friday night, however, as he felt Sligo had probably done enough to edge the win.
“It was a bit hard to take but if you analysed it Sligo were the better side on the night. For a spell after we equalised we looked like we could go on and win it but we just didn’t have enough in the tank to go and finish them off.”