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Ref Smyth quits in wake of County Antrim Shield final furore

By Conor McLaughlin

Referee Mervyn Smyth has announced his retirement in the wake of scathing criticism of his performance in Tuesday's County Antrim Shield final.

The Belfast official, whose dismissal of Crusaders' Paul Heatley in Linfield's 3-1 win was branded "an embarrassment" by Crues boss Stephen Baxter, is understood to have confirmed his intention to quit yesterday, bringing the curtain down on an often controversial career.

Smyth, 41, has taken charge of fixtures in the Europa League as well as at under-age international level but was temporarily stood down from Danske Bank Premiership duty in 2014 for a display that the NI Football League said "fell below the expected standard".

Earlier in the same year, he came under fire for shouting 'yes' when Glentoran scored against Glenavon just seconds after he had applied advantage in the Belfast side's favour and was this season caught up in a disciplinary dispute that saw Lurgan Blues boss Gary Hamilton handed a six-match ban for allegedly punching Dungannon Swifts defender Chris Hegarty.

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