Belfast Telegraph

NI young gun Donnelly stupid to square up to ref, blasts Jones

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland U21 international Liam Donnelly could be hit with a lengthy ban after squaring up to a referee while playing for Hartlepool United.

The Dungannon man's season may be over following a shameful confrontation with official Dean Whitestone in the 2-1 defeat at Leyton Orient on Monday.

The 21-year-old was shown two yellow cards after the confrontation and that would constitute a one-match ban, ruling him out of Saturday's home game with Barnet, but given the unsavoury nature of the incident in stoppage time, he could be punished more severely.

Boss Dave Jones, who admitted he could not bring himself to talk to the former Dungannon Swifts ace after the game, is now bracing himself to be without the centre-back for the rest of the season.

"Depending on the referee report, it might be more than that (one game)," said Jones.

"He'll have to answer for what he's done. It was stupid.

"What Liam does, I can't bring myself to ask him what he was doing.

"I know he's upset (about the decision), but you can't square up to the referee like that. I've not seen anything like that for a long, long time."

Hartlepool were incensed that Whitestone gave a goal kick when they were convinced a Nathan Thomas shot had been deflected for a corner.

Donnelly chased after the referee, remonstrated with him and earned a booking.

The former Fulham man did not back down and instead squared up to the official, who showed him a second yellow and then a red.

Hartlepool are just a point above the League Two relegation zone with three games of the season remaining.

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