Linfield’s David Healy has become the latest high profile Irish League manager to question the standards of refereeing here claiming that a number of decisions went against his side in Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to Larne in the County Antrim Shield final.
Healy felt that Larne scorer Tomas Cosgrove should have been penalised for a push on Jordan Stewart before he headed into the net for the only goal of the game in the second half.
Controlled and calm but keen to air his frustrations, the Blues boss also claimed he was told to leave the pitch before being sent off after entering the playing surface in stoppage time to check on the injured Jordan Stewart.
Linfield hero Stewart was in pain after a crunching challenge from Larne substitute Fuad Sule with Healy declaring his surprise that referee Tony Clarke had not given a free-kick for the incident.
Healy has been punished previously for going on the pitch but says he doesn’t care if the same happens this time as he was showing ‘humanity’ to his player who left the ground on crutches to go to hospital for assessment.
“I was disappointed to lose in what was a really good game with two good sides wanting to play the right way but for their goal I thought it was a definite push on Jordan (Stewart) at the back post,” stated Healy.
“With the decisions that were made during the game I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t give a free-kick. That’s down to the linesman on that side and the man in the middle to make a call.
“We threw two long throws into the box and a corner into the box and got punished. Larne had six men in and around our goalkeeper for every single set play and zero free-kicks. There were calls that frustrated me but maybe Tony (Clarke) saw something that I didn’t.
“I hear other managers (about referees) and I understand their frustrations. I watched a game last week (Glenavon 0 Crusaders 4) and a team gets knocked out of the Irish Cup based on horrendous decisions.
“The league is improving, the standards are improving, everything is improving apart from one thing!”
On going on the pitch to comfort the stricken Stewart, Healy added: “I have a duty of care to the player and that’s why I went on. I wasn’t having a go at Tony (Clarke) or the Larne player or changing tactics.
“I was consoling my player who I could see from the sideline was in distress and then not to be asked to leave the pitch but told to leave the pitch or I was going to be sent off it’s a lack of humanity. That was frustrating.”
On a potential punishment from the powers that be for entering the field of play, Healy said: “There may be IFA or NIFL rules about managers stepping onto the pitch, which I was punished with a number of years ago, but I don’t really care about the rules in these circumstances. I have a human side.”
Speaking about the challenge on Stewart, Healy said: “Sule is hard and fair and he works hard and he is not that type of player but the frustrating thing was we didn’t get a free-kick.”