Belfast Telegraph

Carniny staying positive despite second disciplinary cup headache

By Martin Mawhinney

Carniny Rangers manager Robert Young is managing to stay philosophical about the club’s withdrawal from a major Northern Ireland-wide competition for the second time in three years.

Back in 2012, Rangers were denied the prospect of a County Antrim FA Junior Shield final clash with their neighbouring Ballymena rivals Harryville Homers after reaching the semi-final having unknowingly fielded an ineligible player… and two years later, they are missing out on a chance of the same possible final, for a very similar reason.

On this occasion, the fact that Richard Culbertson, a defender who had signed from Wakehurst in December, had previously played five games for his previous club this season ruled him out of being able to play in this year’s Coca-Cola Junior Cup, and therefore from the club’s quarter-final victory over Lisbellaw United at the start of this month.

Combined with their previous unfortunate record of exiting from latter stages of cup competitions, the reality that Culbertson would have been eligible to play, but for a two minute appearance for Wakehurst as a substitute, has made this a very bitter pill for the club to swallow.

Yet in the face of such disappointment, and a one-year ban from the Junior Cup as a result, Young is determined to keep his head high, and expects his players will follow suit.

The Rangers boss said: “Of course we all gutted, but most of the boys have said they will roll up their sleeves and get on with it. We have a young team, and six of the boys on the field for us that day were 19… so they will hopefully come again.

“We knew the player had played in the Irn Bru Cup for Wakehurst and that made him ineligible for the Junior Shield, so we knew not to field him in that. We asked him how many times he played for them, and he said it was either 3, 4 or 5. 

“So I asked one of the boys at the club to check for us, and they said it was 4. I asked if they were 100 per cent, and the answer I got back was ‘we are okay’. 

“I don’t blame anybody for it. At the end of the day, Ballymena and Cliftonville have been thrown out of Irish Cups before for the same sort of thing, and guys are giving up their own time for the club. It was just human error.”

The only slight positive for the Wakehurst Playing Fields side is that they could have faced up to three years out of the competition, though that is normally a sanction reserved for clubs who have been regarded to have intentionally withheld information from the authorities.

That, however, is unlikely to be of much comfort to the supporters who were dreaming of that potential all-Ballymena date in May with the club with whom they share the same ground, and indeed played each other’s quarter-finals simultaneously just a matter of yards apart.

Meanwhile, Killen Rangers have been issued with a charge and sanction and may well face an extended expulsion from the competition following a bottle-throwing incident at their quarter-final tie against Lisnarick. The score from that game when it was abandoned by the referee in the 85 minute, 1-0 to Lisnarick, stands and Lisnarick proceed to the semi-finals.

A decision will be given on Killen’s sanction at the next meeting of the IFA Junior Cup Committee on Wednesday (19th) evening. The draw for the Junior Cup semi-finals will also be made on the same date.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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