Point pay penalty for ref's gaffe
Warrenpoint 1 - Dungannon 1
Warrenpoint Town manager Barry Gray has slammed the standard of refereeing in Northern Ireland after a shocking decision from Carrickfergus official Ross Dunlop led to his side's relegation on Saturday.
With a minute of normal time remaining and Warrenpoint, 1-0 up through Stephen Hughes, occupying the third bottom position in the Premiership, Dunlop deemed a collision between the 'Point's Jordan Dane and Swifts' Cormac Burke to have been a foul by the Town defender and awarded the visitors a penalty.
While Jonny Parr saved Ryan Harpur's spot-kicks and then two rebounds, he was powerless to keep out Andrew Mitchell's attempt that earned Dungannon a draw and sent a shellshocked Warrenpoint into the Championship.
Nobody at Milltown, aside from Dunlop, felt it was a penalty and subsequent television replays of the incident only served to reinforce that viewpoint but, for Gray, Dunlop's howler was just the latest in a long line of poor performances from the men in the middle this season, with this one costing Warrenpoint Premiership football.
"You don't want to cry poverty about decisions, but the one consistency about this season is that the standard of refereeing from start to finish has been tripe," said a visibly upset Gray after the dramatic ending to the game.
"Every club will agree with that. Today another decision has gone against us with no accountability and no insight into what that decision means and they probably don't care either.
"I'm astonished that he came to that decision from that challenge. I think if it happens anywhere else on the park, it's a free-kick to us.
"The ball breaks in the air, Jordan Dane comes at pace out of our six-yard box direction, wins the ball, Cormac Burke clatters into him, Jordan is lying on the ground injured and Cormac walks away from it. The referee blows his whistle and you think 'free out, happy days'.
"I think the frustration is the arrogance of the refereeing. On occasions, they are all miked up and everyone has an opinion and they miss nothing. This time, we were standing beside the fourth official who was more interested in how many people were out of the dugout as opposed to what is going on on the field.
"One refereeing decision could potentially wreck this club, potentially wreck this team. It has potentially wrecked years upon years of work, financing and everything else that comes along with building this club to come from junior level to senior level. That work doesn't happen overnight. The potential impact it has on the future of this club is massive.
"I asked the referee on the pitch after the match if he was 100% sure that his decision was correct and he replied, 'of course, that's why I made the decision'.
"For the life of me, I don't see that and I don't think any referee, if he's honest, can ever say he is 100% sure that a penalty decision is right or wrong.
"Referees do in this league and get away with it. A manager doesn't get away with it.
"If I chose not to come out and explain myself if I've done something wrong, I would get fined and the league don't pay me.
"In any private employment, you would get your P45 quicker than you could blink for consistently bad performances and referees have churned them out this season."
WARRENPOINT: Parr, M Hughes, McVeigh, Murphy (Boyle, 61 mins), Moan, Bagnall, Dane, McDonald, McMurray (S Hughes, 70 mins), M Murray (Mulvenna, 80 mins), S Murray.
Unused subs: Smith, Donnelly
DUNGANNON: Addis, Lowe, Hegarty, McCaffrey, Teggart, O'Rourke, Burke, Harpur, Wilson, Liggett (Mitchell, 74 mins), Fitzpatrick (Montgomery, 74 mins).
Unused subs: Coleman, McConnell, McDonald
Match Rating: 7/10
Man of match: Jonathan Parr
Referee: Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus)