Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

McAllister challenges IFA as DC lose Cleary case

Donegal Celtic's Sean Cleary played while suspended
Donegal Celtic's Sean Cleary played while suspended

Donegal Celtic's relegation worries have intensified after Sean Cleary was deemed to be ineligible when he scored the winner against Lisburn Distillery 10 days ago.

An Irish FA committee deducted three Premiership points from DC after their 2-1 win in a relegation battle against the Whites on Saturday March 16.

With Distillery awarded a 3-0 win over Celtic, who were also fined £500, the gap at the foot of the table has been reduced to a mere two points, with Tim McCann's team boasting one game in hand.

Cleary returned to the DC line-up after serving a suspension the previous Saturday following a red card against Ballymena United on Saturday March 2.

Less than 24 hours later it emerged that Cleary should have been serving a separate one-match ban for accumulating five yellow cards, which appeared to have been overlooked after the dismissal at Ballymena.

Celtic maintain the club was given an assurance by an Irish FA employee on Friday March 15, that Cleary was free to play the following day against Distillery.

It seems that while Donegal Celtic claims they were misinformed, the club overlooked or failed to act on official notification from the IFA via email and in writing, that Cleary had accumulated five cautions.

Last night livid Donegal Celtic boss Pat McAllister challenged the IFA to "admit their mistake" and "apologise to everyone in local football."

"I am 100 per cent behind our club official who asked if Sean Cleary was free to play in the game against Distillery," said McAllister.

"We knew all along the IFA would punish the club because the rules protect the association in instances like this.

"I challenge the IFA to justify themselves to the football community, to step up and be accountable and brave, and admit that my club was misinformed.

"We had no agenda; we didn't even need to play Sean Cleary in a game we knew we would win.

"Questions have to be asked of the IFA after they informed us that the player was clear from suspension.

"We made the call to the IFA for clarification and the association came back with the wrong answer."

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