PSNI frustrated Linfield in Saturday’s Irish Cup tie and the delay in replaying the game will suit themPSNI will be delighted at the IFA’s Irish Cup Committee once again, breaking competition rules.
Manager Gavin Arthur will not be complaining that the fourth round replay has been set for Wednesday February 4 as it will ensure that defender Shane Brennan will be eligible for the game.
If the rules had been properly applied, that replay would have been played no later than tonight which would have seen Brennan serving a two-match suspension which came into operation last Monday.
The Blues are in a similar boat as striker Michael Carvill who did not play last Saturday, will be available for consideration as he too will have done a two-match suspension by the time the replay comes round.
On the other hand, Bangor had to go into the replay with Carrick Rangers last night without key players Marty Verner and James McMenamim because of suspension.
And that’s how it should be; but what if Bangor had asked for the match to be put back a fortnight? Surely, the IFA could not have quoted rules.
Interim League outfit PSNI pulled off one of the upsets of the season by denying the Blues, who were 1-25 to win the match, victory at the first time of asking.
Equally, Amateur League side Newington, whose manager Eamon McCarthy was disappointed to see their match with Glenavon abandoned even though Newington were losing 1-0, see their rescheduled game not being played until February 3 with the winners facing the victors from that Blues-PSNI tie.
If the Irish Cup Committee — made up of senior clubs representatives with the exception of the chairman of the Intermediate Committee, are going to set down competition rules, then the onus is on making sure they are adhered to. Otherwise they give rise to potential dispute and to all intents and purposes, the IFA have now left themselves exposed if trying to enforce the same rule later in the competition.
Postponed Irish Cup matches or replays are governed by rule 16 which says: "In the event of a tie from where the senior clubs enter to the quarter-finals, being postponed, the clubs MUST arrange to meet on the fourth day after (excluding Saturday and Sunday) unless the clubs agree to play on a previous date."
The same situation applies to replays. And it is on record that the Irish Cup takes priority over other competitions including Premiership matches, yet the latter are being given priority next week which is why the cup ties have been pushed back even further.
The reason why Linfield, PSNI, Glenavon and Newington are not playing this week, was due to the Co-operative Insurance Cup semi-finals being played at Mourneview Park and Windsor Park.
Did those making out the fixtures not realise that you never arrange games for the week following an Irish Cup weekend because of possible replays or at
least only have those other fixtures as provisional?
The Irish FA are fortunate that none of the teams insisted on the cup rule being applied, otherwise it would have left the governing body with no alternative but to apply it.
In future the committee should dispense with this rule and leave replay dates to be decided at their own discretion.
Meanwhile, Aidy McLaughlin has stepped down as manager of Championship outfit Tobermore United despite their Irish Cup win over Killyleagh and a fifth round clash with Lisburn Distillery.
McLaughlin, who has been associated with the Mid-Ulster club for seven years, said a difference of opinion with the board forced him to reluctantly resign.