Belfast Telegraph

McDonnell rages at IFA over late cup call-off

Newry City manager John McDonnell last night challenged the Irish FA to explain why his club still doesn’t know its Irish Cup fate SEVEN weeks after the abandonment of their fifth round tie against Larne.

And the border club boss slammed the governing body for failing to inform them that today’s scheduled sixth round meeting with Loughgall was postponed until less than 24 hours before kick-off.

The IFA’s Executive Board decided that the 2-1 lead Newry held over Larne when referee Raymond Crangle abandoned the game on January 16 eight minutes early after fighting broke out among players would stand as the final result, seeing McDonnell’s team into the next round.

Larne, however, have appealed the decision, meaning that when the semi-final draw is made later today that one of the teams will have four potential opponents against their name.

McDonnell also revealed that he would have wanted his club to appeal if they’d been ordered to replay the game.

“It’s a disaster that we’ve no match,” said McDonnell.

“We’ve prepared all week for an Irish Cup match that now isn’t happening.

“I’m not blaming Larne, they have appealed as they are entitled to do and if we’d been told to replay the match I wouldn’t have taken it. We were 2-1 up with seven or eight minutes to go against nine men and it’s right the result should stand.

“What I want to know is why things have taken so long to sort out. It took a while to get us all together in Belfast to have the suspensions and fines issued, then there was another committee who had to make a decision and another one after that.

“It’s dragged on for far too long and it shouldn’t have happened like this.

“You have to ask if this had been Glentoran or Linfield would it have gone on so long?

“At least if we’d have played Loughgall that would have been it over with, even if we’d have gone out of the cup.”

There seems to be no end to the vicious circle and it will take a firm decision to get this season’s Irish Cup completed on the scheduled final date of Saturday May 8.

“I contacted our club’s office at three o’clock on Friday and at that stage they hadn’t been told the game was off,” said McDonnell.

“It wasn’t until I got a telephone call from one of my own players that I was told and it shouldn’t have taken that long for us to be informed either.”

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