No Brother, No Bother as IFA Clamp down!

Coleraine Captain, Michael Hegarty shakes the hand of his linesman brother Gavin Hegarty before last Saturday's Irish Premiership clash with Ards.
Coleraine Captain, Michael Hegarty shakes the hand of his linesman brother Gavin Hegarty before last Saturday's Irish Premiership clash with Ards.

INSTITUTE manager, Paul Kee has welcomed measures enforced by the IFA this week, aimed at avoiding ‘conflicts of interest’ when appointing matchday referees.

The Irish Football Association has, this week, written to all affiliated referees, ordering officials to declare potential conflicts of interest or any connections individuals may have with senior clubs.

This move comes after it was revealed that Derry official, Gavin Hegarty had been appointed an assistant referee in the Coleraine v Ards Premiership clash last Saturday - even though his brother Michael was the ‘Bannsiders’ captain!

It was Gavin Hegarty’s first senior match as an IFA official and his family ties with the Coleraine skipper came to the fore after the match, despite the fact there was no controversial decisions made during the game.

Chief Refereeing Officer of the N.I. Football League, David Malcolm, said he was dismayed to learn that the pair were related and declared he would not have made that appointment had he known.

However, he went on to state that Mr Hegarty’s integrity was never called into question and added that the Derry official had made an ‘excellent debut’ which was slightly overshadowed by the revelation.

Similar Scenario

Institute have been involved in similar circumstances this season when Derry referee, Paddy McFadden officiated at a game involving his nephew, Darren McFadden.

The ‘Stute striker was sent off during the North-West Craig Memorial Cup quarter-final defeat to Coleraine Reserves by Mr. McFadden for dissent - a highly controversial dismissal in the eyes of Kee.

In fact Kee’s protests after that incident earned him a four match ban and he felt those types of incidents should be avoided at all costs.

“I don’t think it’s sensible to appoint a referee or official if he’s a brother of a player involved in the game because there’s an emotional attachment there,” insisted the ‘Stute boss.

“It’s really down to the individual. The onus is on the referee to declare any conflict of interest beforehand.

“In the case of the Hegarty brothers in the Coleraine game, there was no controversy.

“And I think the Press made a story out of nothing in that regard.

“I wouldn’t be happy if it happened on my watch,” he continued. I would be disappointed if there was a relation or a brother of a player refereeing the same match.

“If I was managing a team and knew the referee or assistant was the brother of an opposition team member, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable with it. But that’s my opinion.”

On the controversial McFadden incident in that Craig Memorial Cup game on September 29th last, Kee was extremely annoyed with the dismissal of his striker.

And while Kee dismissed suggestions that the family relationship between Mr McFadden and ‘Stute striker, Darren McFadden, had influenced the sending off, he felt that such situations should be avoided to prevent any such perception.