Belfast Telegraph

Comment: Perhaps NIFL should bring in technology but Linfield are out of order after Coleraine controversy

By Billy Weir

Much has been said and written in the days following the 'goal' at the Coleraine Showgrounds which gave the Bannsiders a massive win over Linfield.

Was it in, was it not, we will never know now and, because of the threadbare way in which our local game exists, the chances of goal-line technology are about as likely as Alan Simpson wearing a pair of understated trousers.

I have heard all sorts of conspiracy theories to the extent that I'm sure there is a grassy knoll in Windy Hall with evidence that a worm used some magical magnetic ray to attract Jamie McGonigle's effort close enough to the line for it to be given.

The simple facts of the case though are that, rightly or wrongly, it was a goal. And for what it's worth I couldn't, hand on heart, give the goal from the angles I have seen on TV, but if the assistant referee thought differently and was confident in his mind, then that's all that counts.

I don't believe the man in question is Russian, and I doubt whether in 50-odd years people will still be rattling on about that 'goal' back in 2017, and while there were some people on the pitch at the end celebrating, none of them will be thinking it's all over just yet.

One of the weirdest suggestions I have heard is that the game should be replayed in the interests of fairness.

A word of warning. Now I'm sure you all know this but bear with me. A couple of weeks ago in the KNVB Cup, a bit like the FA Cup but with added windmills, FC Lisse beat HSV Hoek 5-4 on penalties. So what, I hear you cry?

It turns out that the poor referee hadn't used the new ABBA penalty system correctly and the Dutch FA, clearly inhaling something they shouldn't have, decided that the shoot-out be replayed. Not the whole match, just the shoot-out.

So everyone traipsed back to Lisse's ground, got kitted out and trotted out in front of a handful of fans and, with ABBA back and fully functional, this time Hoek won 6-5, and no doubt were in the money, money, money.

NIFL could maybe put their hand in their pockets for some cameras, we could all head back to Coleraine, including the 3,000 fans, and we could play the last couple of minutes and see if the hoof off the line was in time after all.

No, the reality is that we have to take it on the chin.

Even David Jeffrey, so angry with Keith Kennedy last week when he red-carded Willie Faulkner that he couldn't speak, held his hands up at the weekend with the news that the referee admitted that he had made a mistake.

"I have got to be fair to him, he stood up and so praise has to be given, but it doesn't help us with the three points," said Jeffrey, and I'm sure Linfield boss David Healy would feel the same way if Arnold Hunter came out and said he had changed his mind.

But we won't know what Healy or Linfield think as Windsor Park has been transformed into a Trappist Monastery with not a dickie bird being emitted since Healy was shown to the stands by Mr Hunter after taking his protests too far.

The vow of silence doesn't help; it's petty, small-minded and unbecoming of a club of the stature of Linfield. And yes, we know you're all spitting feathers, but what good is it going to do in the long run?

Refusing to speak to the media after the game is out of order, and God knows there have been plenty of culprits over the years, not because we have a divine right to make you talk, but the hordes of Blues fans who made the journey to Coleraine deserve to hear what their club thinks about a hugely controversial call.

Most anger has been directed in McGonigle's direction because of his Tweet of Roy Carroll's famous 'save' for Man Utd against Spurs, but that's a bit of fun and teasing, nothing more, nothing less. Some would say he had crossed the line...

Perhaps it is time for NIFL to look at goal-line technology. There are only six games in a weekend, surely with the cash the IFA are accumulating from Northern Ireland's upturn in fortunes a few quid could be thrown in the direction of the local game?

Or bring back the fifth and sixth officials on the line, as they would have been ideally positioned to make a much closer call than the linesman.

Or let's replay the game.

Or let's get on with it, the officials made a decision and throwing the toys out of the pram isn't going to help. And on a more serious note, Linfield are on Sky on Monday night against Crusaders, a huge chance to showcase the game here, it's going to look pretty bad if no one from the home club has anything to say.

At least there won't be an ABBA system in operation, and if there is a late goal, the winner takes it all, just like last weekend.

Mr Crusaders has an unhappy anniversary

In the midst of the weekend madness of Glenavon’s defeat of Crusaders, two notable statistics were barely noticed as the goals rained in.

Paul Heatley scored his 100th league goal for the Crues, and what a shame he is 30 and not 20 or surely he would be off across the water for the bigger platform his rich talents so deserve.

And much the same could be said for Colin Coates, the Crues skipper making his 500th appearance for the club, although it was probably a game he will want to forget.

A great achievement for a top player, although if you took all his suspensions away he’d probably have 750 games played by now!

Rory’s finish was a trip down memory Forest

Footy fans of a certain vintage (well, as old as me) will have been reminded of another goal as Rory Donnelly re-opened his Cliftonville account with the first of his two against Glentoran on Saturday.

A man in a red shirt, flinging himself headlong to head home a tantalising cross before rolling off behind the goals. It could have been Trevor Francis himself in Nottingham Forest’s European Cup final win over Malmo in 1979.

The only difference was that Joe Gormley and not John Robertson crossed the ball, and Rory didn’t land on a shot put circle, mainly because it would probably sink at The Oval!

Ards win comes just in the Nick of time

Absolutely delighted to see Ards’ fantastic win over Glenavon in a huge shock in the Bet McLean League Cup.

Michael Ruddy has now scored twice in his two games following his return from injury, and Jonny Frazer bagged a brace having had to serve a suspension for what was a pretty pathetic red card.

But I’m particularly pleased for manager Colin Nixon. He was at his lowest ebb last Saturday having shipped in six goals against Ballymena United, and by his talk had serious soul-searching to do. Hopefully that win will kick-start Ards and reinvigorate Nicky – we need his drive, passion and love for football in the game.

Billy tackles... Leroy Millar

It's official, the wheels have come off! Cliftonville’s Chris Curran was the victor last week to put the players ahead for the season as a whole.

Neither of us emerged with much glory, the Reds captain notching up a 4-1 victory thanks to his 100 per cent prediction of Carrick Rangers beating Dungannon Swifts 2-1.

Next up is a parochial battle, I’m up against a man from my old stomping ground, Leroy Millar of Ballymena United, and after the Sky Blues’ 6-3 match last week the good news is that we don’t have to try and predict their result this week.

The usual rules apply, one point for picking the correct outcome and three points for hitting the nail right on the head.

Cliftonville v Coleraine; Saturday (3.00pm)

This will be a tough, tough game, but I think it’s going to be a 2-2 draw. There should be goals but Coleraine are going to be missing two players in Brad Lyons (below) and Eoin Bradley who have been instrumental for them. Cliftonville are really picking things up and I think that was only a matter of time because going forward they’re really good.

Millar prediction: 2-2

Weir prediction: 3-2

Ballinamallard Utd v Carrick Rangers; Saturday (3.00pm)

There are some big games this week and I’ll have to go for Carrick in this one. Carrick haven’t been absolutely hammered by anyone, they’ve always been there or thereabouts. Ballinamallard just can’t buy a result and I can’t see it coming on Saturday.

Millar prediction: 1-3

Weir prediction: 1-0

Dungannon Swifts v Glentoran; Saturday (5.30pm)

Dungannon have been doing really well, picking up some good results, but I fancy Glentoran, even away from home. Dungannon play some good football but I will still go for the Glens.

Millar prediction: 0-2

Weir prediction: 2-2

Ards v Warrenpoint Town; Friday (7.45pm)

It’s another tough one but with Ards at home I think they’ll just edge it. There are goals in them but it’s just keeping them out at the other end that has been the problem. Ards have a couple of players in Jonny Frazer and Kyle Cherry back in and they are good players.

Millar prediction: 2-1

Weir prediction: 3-1

Linfield v Crusaders; Monday (7.45pm)

I’m going to sit on the fence and go for a draw. I think at this stage of the season both of them would probably settle for a point too but that could give Coleraine the chance to open up a big gap.

Millar prediction: 1-1

Weir prediction: 2-2

Season’s score: Players 4 Weir 3

The final word

At the time of going to print Gavin Dykes was still boss of Ballinamallard United, although judging by his own words his tenure is now likely being measured in minutes. “Ultimately the buck stops with me. I feel at the moment I’m letting (the club) down,” he said. Perhaps it’s time his players reacted.

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