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Three month ban, one match missed: Mark Byrne can now prove he warrants Warrenpoint future, says chief

 

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Future planning: Mark Byrne, having missed minimal time during his ban, is contracted to Warrenpoint for another year

Future planning: Mark Byrne, having missed minimal time during his ban, is contracted to Warrenpoint for another year

Future planning: Mark Byrne, having missed minimal time during his ban, is contracted to Warrenpoint for another year

Warrenpoint Town goalkeeper Mark Byrne will be able to resume his career from May 24 after the coronavirus pandemic slashed his three-month suspension to, effectively, a one-match ban.

 

The Irish FA has extended its suspension of football in Northern Ireland until May 31 and Byrne will be allowed to don the gloves again as his lengthy ban will be over.

The 19-year-old was informed of the heavy suspension on February 20 after his involvement in the fracas at the end of the Irish Cup clash with Ballymena United at Milltown on February 1.

Byrne, who became involved in a physical confrontation with Sky Blues fans near the end of the Cup fixture, was banned for six months, three of which were suspended for 18 months.

The Irish FA's disciplinary committee found the stopper guilty of "bringing the game into disrepute".

Byrne's suspension started on Monday, February 24 and when his three-game ban following his dismissal is factored in, that leaves him missing just one further game because of the long suspension.

The three-game ban following the Cup clash saw him miss a 2-1 home defeat to Linfield on February 8, a 2-2 draw at home to Institute on February 14 and the 1-0 loss at Larne on February 22.

The only fixture Byrne missed due to his three-month suspension was the 4-4 showdown at Dungannon Swifts on March 7.

An Irish FA source confirmed that the teenager was free to resume his career from May 24, saying: "He will be able to play again. His suspension will not alter at all because it is based not on matches, but months.

"Once his time served is passed, his suspension is lifted. It is not his fault the matches were not played.

"If the season restarts he will be allowed to play."

Warrenpoint chairman Connaire McGreevy said Byrne would be in a position to challenge for a place in the side.

"Mark is still contracted for another year with us," he said.

"Like all players, Mark will have to convince the manager he deserves a place in the team and that he has a future at the club."

Town are in a battle for top-flight survival, second from bottom in the Danske Bank Premiership with seven games remaining.

Barry Gray's side are only three points ahead of Institute and all clubs are waiting for guidance from the Northern Ireland Football League and Irish FA on how the season may be finished.

The promotion and relegation issues are among the most pressing matters to be resolved and it's debatable whether matches can be played in the summer months, particularly if social distancing rules remain in place.

McGreevy added: "We are waiting for decisions to be made.

"The longer the health crisis continues the more financial damage will be done to clubs. Commercial revenue looks set to fall. There's a chance that some clubs will find it very tough."

Byrne, who accepts he lost his composure at the end of the Cup tie, will have learned lessons from that painful episode and he can now rebuild his career after missing very little due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

It's also understood that a disciplinary matter involving another goalkeeper has not been dealt with.

Referee Andrew Davey said he spotted Crusaders goalkeeper Gerard Doherty throw "at least one" bottle into the crowd after the Irish Cup quarter-final defeat at Glentoran.

Davey said Doherty was shown a straight red card for "violent conduct" after retaliating to Glentoran fans.

If the season finishes and the matter is not dealt with by the disciplinary committee, then there's a chance the case will not be heard at all.

Belfast Telegraph