SHAMROCK Rovers boss, Pat Fenlon claims he didn’t see the incident which led to the dismissal of his centre half Jason McGuinness on Tuesday night - a decision he felt was the turning point in their FAI Cup semi-final replay at Brandywell.
McGuinness was given his marching orders after wrestling Ryan McBride to the floor just after the hour mark with the teams deadlocked and extra-time appearing an increasingly likely possibility.
Fenlon, whose team suffered a late sucker punch for the second time in the space of three days, felt the sending off handed Derry the initiative in what had previously been an evenly contested match.
“I don’t think there was anything in the game until then,” said the Dubliner. “It was a bit like Sunday’s game and the sending off probably changed it.
“I thought when Derry missed the penalty we might be able to see it out but we were under a fair bit of pressure in the end.
“I can’t be too critical on my players because they fought hard and worked hard and, as I said, the sending off made the difference in the game. It was hard to see from where I was,” he added. “I’ve spoken to the referee and he said he (McGuinness) has hauled him down.
“But I’d like to see it again before I make any further comment on it. It’s changed the game as we went down to 10 men and gave Derry the upper hand.
“They put us under a lot of pressure then and we couldn’t hold out until the end.”
Fenlon felt his side’s hectic fixture schedule had taken its toll on his players as he saw his side’s hopes of winning the FAI Cup for the first time since 1987 disappear in the final 60 seconds of the semi-final.
“It’s difficult to take, a bit like Sunday as well,” said Fenlon whose only cup success as a manager was with Bohemians in 2008 when defeating Derry on penalties at the RDS.
“But it’s hard for me to be critical when the team’s down to 10 men for that period of time and they worked tremendously hard. They’ve played something like nine games in 30 days so we felt the effects of it against Derry.”
So who does the Rovers boss think will go all the way now to lift the 2014 FAI Cup at the Aviva Stadium next month?
“They’re two good sides,” said the Rovers boss. “Pat’s are a very, very good side and Derry are a decent side as well so it’s set-up well.
“And if it’s as good as the last one between the pair of them then it’ll be a good game. It’s a 50/50 call being a cup final to be honest,” concluded the former City boss.