Belfast Telegraph

Ross Dunlop must own up to worst mistake I've seen

By Scott Young

What about that shocking penalty decision that relegated Warrenpoint Town on Saturday? It must go down as one of the worst refereeing decisions we have witnessed in the Irish League.

It was an absolutely disgraceful decision and I can understand Barry Gray's frustration and anger.

The bottom line is the standard of refereeing in the Irish League is not good enough and too many fans, players and managers are fed up with it.

If I was Ross Dunlop I would lie low for now and write a letter to Barry apologising for the error. It's hard to forgive and forget in these moments because the consequences are so severe, but Barry is certainly owed an apology.

Unless the referee is 100 per cent correct about a penalty decision it should never be given.

We want to be positive when talking about the Irish League, but there is nothing positive about this shocking, appalling blunder.

The whistlers will make mistakes and take a lot of stick. Ross is getting a lot of criticism at the moment and sometimes it's easy to chastise people, but there's got to be room for constructive criticism.

We must deal in the facts and sadly Ross also made errors in last year's Irish Cup final which hurt Portadown.

If managers don't get results they are sacked, if players do not perform well enough they are let go from clubs, but we cannot have a situation where referees are making big mistakes on a regular basis.

These incidents are happening far too often and must be stopped if our game is to thrive.

The refs are paid decent money and we rightly expect them to keep the mistakes to a minimum.

Anyone who understands the game can see that was never a penalty. I thought it was a foul against the Dungannon Swifts player (Cormac Burke) who came in charged into the challenge against Jordan Dane aggressively. Jordan ran towards the ball with his eyes focused on it and was taken out.

Warrenpoint paid the price for a poor four or five months at the start of the season, but it was still an unbelievable way to be relegated on the last day.

Barry and his side defied the critics by giving themselves a fighting chance of survival and to see it snatched away from them in agonising fashion is heartbreaking.

The loss of revenue associated with going out of the top flight is significant.

I now feel sorry for people like NIFL referee's boss David Malcolm because they wish they were working with a better calibre of referee.

We don't have a big pool of refs and that's part of the problem as younger officials are fast-tracked and perhaps not ready for the Premiership.

I also think our refs should be more human and less robot. I watch the Premier League referees in England try to communicate with the players and it's better when they don't act like strict schoolteachers.

There's a wee bit of arrogance there which needs to go.

And there must also be repercussions for mistakes - accountability, but that's not much consolation to Warrenpoint Town when the damage has been done.

Belfast Telegraph


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