Belfast Telegraph

Stephen McDonnell urges 'common sense' officiating following Oval dismissal

Warrenpoint Town manager Stephen McDonnell.
Warrenpoint Town manager Stephen McDonnell.

By Gareth McCullough

Stephen McDonnell saw red last night at The Oval and he's called on Irish League referees to apply 'common sense' in their decision making.

The Warrenpoint Town boss was dismissed by Referee Steven Gregg in the dying moments of  Tuesday night's 2-2 draw away to Glentoran after complaining about the build up to the home side's late leveller from Darren Murray. 

McDonnell felt Eamon Scannell had been barged over by Murray right in front of the linesman. However, a corner was awarded to Glentoran rather than a free-kick to the Point and Mick McDermott's men capitalised to eventually level through former Town striker Murray. 

"This is just common sense and it's a problem with referee in the Irish League. I think I speak for everyone when I'm saying it's just common sense. Don't allow a manager to have a pop at you over something you should be dealing with better," said McDonnell.

"To me, there's a problem where there aren't enough ex-players are referees. Eamon Scannell could have, if he wanted, cleared that ball 60 or 70 yards up the pitch. He's shepherding it out for a goal kick and Darren Murray comes right through the back of him, pushes him onto the ball and puts it out for a corner kick.

"The benefit needs to go to Eamon there. It's really common sense and when you don't see people using their common sense on the most basic of things and then it comes back to bite you on the bum, you get really frustrated."

The Point had gone in front through Simon Kelly in the first half before John Herron's deflected effort drew the Glens level shortly after the break. Philip Donnelly restored the away side's advantage from the penalty sport before Murray struck late on. 

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McDonnell revealed that the linesman involved had called him to admit his error on reviewing television footage of the incident. 

"I went into the linesman afterwards - and it's the first time I've gone into the officials after a game this season, because normally, when there have been poor decisions, we haven't done enough to get a result. Last night, we were full value for three points and he's cost us three points," McDonnell said. 

"In fairness to the linesman, I will give him a bit of credit. I said to him that I thought he got it completely wrong and he gave me his view on it. I thought Eamon was barged, the linesman felt the ball had been played off him, so I asked him to have a look back on the footage and I gave him my number and asked to him to call me if he got it wrong.

"In fairness, I got a call from the linesman to apologise so, as raw as it was last night, he made that call and I'm not sure if all referees or linesmen would. He apologised to myself, to the team and to the club for getting it wrong.

"I understand that these things happen and they're human. I make mistakes too.

"But we're in a position where our jobs are on the line and if we were under severe pressure last night in terms of a proper relegation battle, you'd be absolutely devastated.

"It's a part-time league and I understand that referees have day jobs like most players, managers and coaching stuff. But what I would like to see is just general common sense. The likes of that decision last night is just clear as day to everybody.

"The officials need to work together. If one of them can't see it then the other can clearly see it. Between the three or four of them, surely one of them can make the correct decision.

"We're talking about clubs going full-time and making things more professional. Well these are the basic rules of refereeing. The basics need to be right in order for them to progress."    

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