Belfast Telegraph

'It's criminal': Boss Rod McAree fumes after Coleraine denied penalty in Irish Cup semi-final defeat to Crusaders

Rodney McAree
Rodney McAree

By Alex Mills in the Sunday Life

Fuming Rodney McAree took a swipe at referee Tim Marshall after his team’s Tennent’s Irish Cup semi-final defeat to Crusaders at The Oval.

The Irvinestown official not only angered McAree, but the big Coleraine support, by changing his mind after awarding the Bannsiders a second half penalty following Sean Ward’s lunge at Jamie Glackin.

After consulting with his assistant Richard Storey on the touchline, Marshall instead awarded a free kick inches OUTSIDE the box.

Ironically, it was two spot kicks – expertly converted by David Cushley and Jordan Owens – that ultimately booked the Crues a place in the May 4 final against Championship side Ballinamallard United.

McAree insists Marshall’s decision not only cost his team the chance of getting back into the game, but it could also have huge financial ramifications further down the line.

“The decision has crucified us,” roared McAree.

“The financial fall-out from this is massive. Our target is European football. Before this game, our best route was by winning the Irish Cup.

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“But the penalty decision crucified us. The ironic thing is, Crusaders end up winning the game with the penalty kicks.

“What the second one was for, I just don’t know. It rubbed a bit of salt into our wounds.”

On the free-kick that was awarded for Ward’s foul on Glackin, McAree added: “It was a penalty kick all day long. My recollection of it was the referee was in a good position, better than his assistant.

“He’s the senior referee and he’s the one looking at it from a closer distance. The linesman decided he would overrule Tim.

“At that stage, such was the magnitude of the decision, he had to make sure he got it right — he had to be 100 per cent sure.

“Whenever Tim was so positive in terms of making the initial decision, he shouldn’t have been side-tracked by his assistant.”

Coleraine’s only possible route to European football will now rest with the end-of-season play-offs.

"Our target from the outset was European football - that incident could end up costing the club close to £250,000," fumed McAree. "It hurts a lot of people who put a lot of work into the running of Coleraine Football Club. It's criminal.

"You expect officials to get decisions right at this level - he was only yards away. Between the referee and the linesman, they have made a hash of it.

“We were not guaranteed to win the game, but we would have given ourselves a better chance.

“Had we scored, it would have been one-each. I thought we were in the ascendency at the time, I thought we were the better team. We could well have gone on to win it. Who knows?

“At the end of the day, I believe the linesman cost us the opportunity of doing that.”

McAree stressed he didn’t even get the opportunity to plead his case afterwards.

He added: “I didn’t have the chance to speak to the referee.

“These people are escorted off the pitch by security, they then lock themselves up in a little room with a six-foot plus bouncer on the door. What happens to people who make these bad decisions?

“Managers, coaching staff and players all suffer if they turn in poor performances, which ultimately could cost them their position in the club.

“But nothing ever happens to officials.

“He’ll probably be stood down for a couple of weeks – he’ll probably officiate at Dollingstown next week, not pick up as much money and be back on the line in a couple of weeks.”

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