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Dungannon Swifts 1-1 Glenavon: Referees drive me up the wall, raps angry Gary Hamilton

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 19/09/2016

Wall power: Glenavon player-boss Gary Hamilton protests his innocence to fans as he watches the final few minutes from an unorthodox vantage point
Wall power: Glenavon player-boss Gary Hamilton protests his innocence to fans as he watches the final few minutes from an unorthodox vantage point

Gary Hamilton has called on Irish League chiefs to give managers more freedom to criticise poor refereeing.

The Glenavon player-boss had to choose his words carefully after a chaotic Mid-Ulster derby clash with Dungannon Swifts, when he was one of three players red carded by Mervyn Smyth.

He protested his innocence after being sent off following a clash with Chris Hegarty, but was frustrated at not being able to say exactly what he made of Mr Smyth's performance.

Hamilton feels that needs to change and says referees must be more accountable.

"I can come out and I can say whatever I want about my players but, unfortunately, I can't say what I want about the referee and what I really feel," he moaned. "It's not right and, again, if any of my players performed like that they definitely wouldn't be playing for five or six weeks, that's for sure."

Glenavon, now without a win in three games, led through Eoin Bradley's free-kick and dominated the first-half chances.

But Dungannon's Paul McElroy hit the crossbar in the second period before David Armstrong levelled with a stylish finish, while the hosts might have won it at the finish only for the woodwork to deny Andrew Mitchell.

But the red cards dominated the post-match discussion.

The first two came in the 43rd minute when Glenavon's Kris Lindsay and Dungannon's Ryan Harpur were sent off following a mass scuffle.

Hamilton said Lindsay had protested his innocence and is looking forward to seeing the incident again on television.

He was more angry about his own red card, barely three minutes after coming on.

Hamilton was told he was dismissed for punching - which he angrily denied.

He added: "Everyone in the stadium knows that I didn't punch him. You can't tell the truth - and that's wrong.

"In any other environment you can come out and tell the truth, but we can't, and that's the unfortunate thing.

"Managers and players are held liable for their performances. If they don't perform or the team's not performing then they lose their jobs and they don't get contracts or whatever."

The draw got Dungannon back on track after the previous weekend's defeat at Crusaders, yet boss Rodney McAree felt they deserved more than a point.

"I thought in the second half we could have gone on and won it," he said.

DUNGANNON: Coleman, Burns, Hegarty, Armstrong, Wilson, Harpur, Clucas, Glackin, Teggart (Burke, 69 mins), McElroy (Lavery, 55 mins), Mitchell. Unused subs: Addis, Fitzpatrick, O'Rourke.

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Kelly, Lindsay, Sykes, Doyle, Martyn, Hall, Marshall, Cooper (Patton, 75 mins), Bradley, Braniff (Hamilton, 81 mins). Unused subs: McGrory, Bates, Kilmartin.

Referee: Mervyn Smyth (Belfast)

Man of the match: Chris Hegarty

Match rating: 9/10

Belfast Telegraph

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