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Give our stars more protection says Blues boss Malone

By Gordon Hanna

Published 16/10/2007

Furious Colin Malone last night demanded more protection from referees for the Irish League's 'marked men'.

The fuming Glenavon boss raged: "Players who can make a difference are being kicked from pillar to post and nothing is being done about it.

"I've two players with broken legs following reckless tackles and opponents were not even booked. It's an absolute scandal."

Striker Richard Gibson was the victim of a crunching tackle by Johnny Montgomery at Dungannon and Lurgan Blues captain and former international Gerard McMahon was taken out against Linfield.

Malone raged: "Both tackles were deserving of red cards but amazingly no action was taken. Not even a yellow. Watching them made me cringe.

"Now I've two key players out for the foreseeable future. Sadly for Gerard it's his left leg, the one he had broken before and which sidelined him for over a year.

"We can just hope that unlike last time there will be no complications and he will make a full recovery. It would be terrible if it were to end what has been a wonderful career which saw him play in England and Scotland and on the international stage for Northern Ireland. The players dedicated Saturday's exciting 4-3 win over Larne to their captain and everyone is keeping fingers crossed he and Richard will be ready to come back by the end of the year.

"It would be a wonderful Christmas present all round."

Malone is convinced certain players are being targeted and goes on: " It's hard to take. The two tackles came straight through the players, unbelievable challenges. Both offences were deserving of red cards but in each case the referee took no action. It's simply not good enough.

"Both lads are trying to remain positive and even though he was not playing at Larne, Gerard was still an inspirational figure and the players were determined to do the business for him."

Glenavon could be hit even harder if a second striker, Stephen Magennis, has his worst fears realised. He goes into hospital this week for a scan on his injured knee.

Glevavon players needed a police escort out of the ground after beating Larne 4-3 at Inver Park on Saturday.

Manager Colin Malone was verbally abused at the final whistle while buses carrying Lurgan Blues fans were attacked and had windows broken.

Malone said: "The abuse didn't bother me in the least, a case of water off a duck's back and all that. But I was concerned for the safety of our supporters who turned out in good numbers.

"To be on the safe side the players' coach was given a police escort and took a different route."

Malone reckons the incidents were the result of a spill over of ill feeling from last season when Larne was embroiled in a row over the eligibility of defender Padraig Gallogly.

At one point Larne were deducted 16 points and hit with a hefty £8000 fine but later had the points restored which meant Glenavon had to win the dreaded promotion/relegation play-off with Bangor to stay in the Premier League.

Glenavon and relegated Loughgall were blamed, either rightly or wrongly, for bringing the matter to the attention of IFA chiefs and Larne and their fans were obviously not best pleased.

Malone said: "Whatever the reason it was uncalled for. This sort of behaviour could make some people think twice about travelling at a time when we are endeavouring to attract more people to Irish League matches.

"Hopefully it's only an isolated incident."

Belfast Telegraph

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