‘Ref’ justice for Derry City in Dublin as Ruaidhri Higgins fumes
A DISGRUNTLED Ruaidhri Higgins questioned the ‘incredibly frustrating’ decision to play an excessive SIX minutes of additional time at the end of Monday night’s thrilling six goal clash at Dalymount Park.
James Akintunde’s cool finish in the 91st minute looked certain to hand Derry a four point advantage over their rivals for European qualification until referee Rob Harvey decided the three minutes signalled by the fourth official wasn’t quite enough!
Take nothing away from Georgie Kelly’s thunderous volley which was worthy enough to win any game but make no mistake about it, the inexplicable extra three minutes could potentially cost Derry a place in European competition next year not to mention the significant financial windfall that comes with it!
With nine games remaining, a four point lead over Bohs, who have two tricky games in hand against Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk, would’ve put Derry in a strong position.
Higgins, therefore, was understandably apoplectic after the game having come so close to what would’ve been an outstanding victory, particularly given the absence of THREE key players.
It’s the latest decision to go against Derry according to Higgins who is already on record disputing Joe Thomson’s ‘extremely harsh’ three game ban dished out by the FAI’s Disciplinary Committee.
Derry certainly haven’t had enjoyed their share of good fortune in recent matches involving Mr. Harvey and that trend continued on Monday. The Candy Stripes have won just once in the last 12 officiated by the Dubliner, including three games against Bohs, dating back to September 2018 and just once in the last nine fixtures at Brandywell!
Back in June at Brandywell, the same official denied Derry what looked a clear-cut penalty when Ronan Boyce was brought down by Bohs defender Anto Breslin’s mistimed sliding tackle and a furious Higgins was shown a yellow card for protesting the decision.
The former St Kevin’s Boys youth footballer will argue the additional minutes on Monday night were warranted due to a substitution, an injury and a goal during the three added minutes but Higgins described the late, late equaliser and the decision to keep the clock ticking as ‘gut-wrenching’.
“I’m gutted to be honest that we haven’t held on and picked up three points,” he said. “Three minutes went up on the board and we played 50.5 minutes in the second half. Tell me I’m wrong but I think if the opposition is 3-2 up then I’m not sure we go to 50.5 minutes.
“Listen, that’s part and parcel when you come to places like this and we have to deal with it. The players are absolutely heartbroken in there to be honest,
“When three minutes go up on the board and we get to 50.5 minutes then I’m entitled to ask the question,” he added. “It’s so incredibly frustrating.
“That’s what you have to live with when you go away to big Dublin clubs. That seems to happen a fair bit.”
Higgins sought an explanation for the additional time from Mr. Harvey afterwards and the official explained he added on the extra minutes due to a stoppage in play when Ciaron Harkin went down injured and for Akintunde’s goal.
“In fairness he explained himself,” added Higgins. “He said a minute for the (Akintunde) goal and then another for Ciaron Harkin being on the ground for whatever.
“It’s just strange that he’s added on a minute for each of them. But we’ve gone over 50 minutes. At our club we have to get used to accepting stuff like that.
“When you score three times in Dublin against one of the top teams you’d like to be coming away with three points. But it shows how far this team has come in such a short space of time that we’re devastated and heartbroken going back up the road with a point.
“It’s heartbreaking, especially when it goes that late in the game. In fairness to Georgie (Kelly) it was an unbelievable goal. If we go and pick three points on Friday which will be a very tough game then we might look at tonight’s result as a decent point but at this minute in time it’s gut-wrenching.”