WATCH: Derry City paying the penalty as official denies 'stone-wall' spotkick in Dundalk

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RUAIDHRI Higgins claimed he wasn't surprised to see his Derry City team denied a 'stonewall' penalty decision in their enthralling opening day draw against Dundalk at Oriel Park.

An incident which was also overlooked on the Airtricity League's new TV highlights programme 'The LOI Show', could have made it 3-2 to Derry on the night and perhaps secured a precious victory on the road to get City's season up and running.

Shortly after Jamie McGonigle stooped to head home James Akintunde's cross to make it 2-2, the City striker was then brought crashing to the ground just yards from the penalty spot as he attempted to get on the end of Patrick McEleney's clever cutback.

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Dundalk debutante and goalscorer on the night Mark Connolly collided with the Dungiven man from behind and McGonigle made a frantic appeal for a penalty to the referee's assistant to no avail.

Jamie McGonigle celebrates his equalising goal but should he have been awarded a penalty at Oriel Park?Jamie McGonigle celebrates his equalising goal but should he have been awarded a penalty at Oriel Park?
Jamie McGonigle celebrates his equalising goal but should he have been awarded a penalty at Oriel Park?

Match referee Rob Harvey was well placed with his view unobstructed but the Dublin official ignored the shouts from the Derry players and play continued.

When asked about the incident afterwards, Derry boss Higgins was frustrated by the decision not to award the penalty but said it didn't surprise him.

"From where I was it looked like a stone-wall penalty but I'm not surprised it wasn't given," said Higgins.

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Bizarrely the footage wasn't featured in the highlights package on LOI TV despite potentially being a game-changer had Derry scored from the spot so late in the game, however, the video clip clearly shows contact was made inside the box as McGonigle nipped in front of the Dundalk defender.

Despite the major talking-point which was omitted from the LOI Show coverage, the panellist instead opted to have a second look at 'a potential body-check' on Dundalk's Andy Boyle by McGonigle in the lead up to Derry's first equaliser. Both experts on the panel, Declan 'Fabio' O'Brien and Alan Keane, however, felt McGonigle had used his body fairly as he left the Dundalk defender in his wake.

McGonigle was then denied twice by the woodwork as Derry chased victory at the Co. Louth venue but the match ended in a 2-2 draw.

Of course it's not the first time the Dublin official has upset the City boss and the Brandywell support having denied Ronan Boyce what looked like a certain penalty on Foyleside when he was brought down by Anto Breslin's sliding tackle in the 1-1 draw with Bohemians last June. Higgins was furious with the decision and was shown a yellow card for protesting on the sidelines.

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And Higgins was also left outraged at Mr Harvey's decision to play an excessive SIX minutes of additional time at the end of a six goal clash against Bohemians at Dalymount Park as Georgie Kelly equalised with the last kick of the game in the 3-3 thriller last September. The Candy Stripes have won just once in the last 13 games officiated by Mr Harvey.

“In fairness he explained himself," added Higgins at the time. “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."

While Higgins claimed it was overall a 'fair result' based on the balance of play on the night, the Limavady man will be left pondering what might have been had his team been awarded that penalty.