Use of ‘reds’ a real worry

Paul Hegarty keeping an eye on his side during Tuesday night's friendly in Ballybofey.
Paul Hegarty keeping an eye on his side during Tuesday night's friendly in Ballybofey.

DERRY City’s assistant manager, Paul Hegarty, is concerned that the use of red cards by referees is starting to ruin the game.

Hegarty, who was commenting after the 93rd minute dismissal of striker, Rory Patterson at Tolka Park last Friday night, suggested that match referee, Padraig Sutton, had got the decision wrong.

However, the Lifford man refused to blame the match official, suggesting that Sutton’s view of the incident was not as clear-cut as it would have been for one of the referee’s assistants or, indeed, the fourth official.

Patterson received his first yellow card during the early stages of the second half but the Strabane man was then adjudged to have fouled Ian Ryan during injury time, an incident which Hegarty claimed should have seen Derry receiving a free-kick.

“I’ve no problems with the first yellow card, but had the referee been in my position, he would not have produced a second yellow card and would have given us the free-kick, not the Shelbourne player,” insisted Hegarty.

“I just can’t understand why the referee’s assistant or, indeed, the fourth official couldn’t have intervened. After all, they are ‘miked up’ and can communicate with each other. Rory Patterson should not have been shown a red card.”

And having approached the referee after the game, Hegarty was actually given a sympathetic hearing.

“To be fair to the referee, he listened to what I had to say and told me afterwards that he would look at the incident again on television. I don’t know if he can do anything about his decision at this stage, but at least he was prepared to listen to my complaint.

“I told him that I was not pointing the finger at him as he was in a poor position, but two of his officials were well placed to see the incident and it should have resulted in a Derry City free-kick, not a second yellow card which saw Rory Patterson sent off,” maintained Hegarty.

Should the referee believe that he had acted harshly, it’s not known if a yellow card caution can be rescinded. Red card decisions can be overturned due to television football, but Hegarty was not sure of the rule relating to yellow cards.

“I’m not sure if yellow cards can be rescinded, but given that a player has been sent off I’m hopeful that the referee will realise that a mistake had been made and make matters right.

“I watched a match in the Sligo Showgrounds recently involving Sligo and UCD when the Sligo right-back was sent off after just 16 or 17 minutes.

“It was an amazing decision as the player should have received a yellow card at the very worst for the challenge. But the referee’s decision to send the player off threatened to change the pattern of the match.

“There were over 3,500 people at the match, all hoping to be entertained but with Sligo a man down so early, it was all about protecting what they had. To be fair, Sligo produced an excellent performance on the right and never really looked in difficulty, but the decision threatened to ruin the game.

“We had Rory (Patterson) sent off and he will now miss out against Cork City at the Brandywell this Friday night when he really should be playing. That was another decision which saw the use of a red card which should not have been shown.

“I don’t know what criteria the referees are using this season, I would prefer that they let the players get on with it and try to entertain. With players getting sent off for what I believe are very minimal offences, I really do think that such decisions threaten the overall entertainment level of the game.”

Missed Chances Disappointing

Looking back on the game in Tolka Park which represented Derry’s first defeat of the season, Hegarty admitted his disappointment but felt that the “Candy Stripes” had more than their fair share of scoring chances to secure at least a draw.

“We were not at our best, make no mistake about that,” he declared. “Shelbourne worked harder than we did, but it was us who dominated the clear-cut scoring chances but we failed to take advantage.

“We would have been 1-0 up within seconds of the kick-off when Davy McDaid broke through. We hit the bar twice and on one of those occasions, quite a few people have suggested that Patrick McEleney’s free-kick was well over the goal-line after it had crashed downwards from the underside of the crossbar.

“I don’t know if the ball had crossed the line or not, but there’s nothing we can do about that now. The referee and his officials didn’t give it, so we have to get on with it.

“The goal which decided the game was sloppy on our part and at this level, especially in places such as Tolka Park, we can’t afford to concede sloppy goals.

“Obviously, we are very disappointed with the result but, hopefully, our players will continue to learn the importance of a high work ethic.

“I also felt that Shelbourne were more physical than us on the night and I must admit I was impressed with them. There are few teams who will get it easy at Tolka this season. Shelbourne have a panel of 22 players and they’ve all played in the Premier Division.”

He accepted the fact that players would make mistakes. “It happens in every game, players make mistakes and they just have to get up and get on with it, but they’ve got to learn. To concede soft goals at this level makes it very difficult. It was a goal that could and should have been avoided but, as I’ve said, we created the chances to score at least one goal yet we failed to do that.

“At this stage of the season it’s all about getting points on the board, performances will come eventually, so we have to get on with it and try to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” concluded Hegarty.

McDaid’s opening volley was well parried by Shels’ keeper, Dean Delaney, during the opening minute, but the home side also threatened during the early stages when Paddy Kavanagh’s out-swinging corner found Conan Byrne unmarked but the winger’s header failed to hit the target.

Shelbourne defender Andy Boyle was well placed to clear McDaid’s heavy touch as he raced into the danger area while Derry keeper, Gerard Doherty, did well to block a Philip Hughes effort midway through the opening half.

However, the home side grabbed the breakthrough three minutes before the half-time interval when Hughes took advantage of a slip by Shane McEleney and the Shelbourne striker’s shot from 25 yards appeared to deceive Doherty, the ball finding its way to the net inside the keeper’s right-hand post.

Two minutes after the break, Derry were denied what appeared a clear-cut equaliser. Patrick McEleney’s superb free-kick from 30 yards crashed off the underside of the Shelbourne crossbar before rebounding well over the goal-line.

The referee, however, failed to point to the centre-circle despite the fact that a number of Shelbourne heads had dropped and the visitors were furious.

Making matters worse for the Foylesiders was the dismissal of Patterson three minutes into injury time when the striker was shown a second yellow card.

SHELBOURNE - Delaney; Matthews, Boyle, Ryan, Fitzgerald; McGill (Cassidy, 78), Cronin, Hurley, Byrne (Murphy, 68); Kavanagh, Hughes (Gorman, 83).

DERRY CITY - Doherty; Madden, Greacen, S. McEleney (McBride, 70), McCaffrey; P. McEleney (Morrison, 70), Molloy, Higgins, McLaughlin; McDaid (Farren, 66), Patterson.

REFEREE - Mr. Padraig Sutton (Clare).