Not for the first time in recent months, referee Keith Kennedy was the main topic of conversation after an Irish League game.
The Belfast official was the man everyone was talking about after Dungannon Swifts’ win over Institute on Saturday, just as he was last month in ’Stute’s home game against Ballymena United and Glentoran’s encounter against Glenavon.
Watch it back. Let everyone watch it back and make their own call on it because it’s ridiculous.Paddy McLaughlin
On Saturday, Kennedy awarded a controversial penalty after Swifts’ Paul McElroy went down after running into Dean Curry. The winger dusted himself down to fire home the all important equaliser, much to ’Stute boss Paddy McLaughlin’s fury.
“How did the referee make that decision? We have watched it back on the video and it’s nearly comical,” insisted McLaughlin.
“Everyone was laughing at Raheem Sterling during the week in the Champions League but it’s definitely not a laughing matter when it goes against you.
“It is something that has to be looked at because this can’t keep happening.”
In the referee’s defence he hesitated for a few seconds after the incident, only making his decision after his assistant flagged to confirm the penalty but McLaughlin wasn’t having that.
“If the referee believes the linesman can call that through three or four boys between him and the incident, while he’s looking directly at it, then that’s what you have to deal with.
“Watch it back. Let everyone watch it back and make their own call on it because it’s ridiculous,” he added.
“You can’t say too much because if you say anything about referees or linesmen, you’ll be pulled in front of a disciplinary committee, so I can’t say anything about it. I just want everybody to watch it back and make their own call on it.”
McLaughlin said he felt his side were well in control of the game before the penalty.
“I’m bitterly disappointed with the defeat as we have come away from home and gone in leading 1-0 at half-time. We were doing all the right things,” he added.
“We were grinding it out, winning tackles and winning headers; going with runners, everything that you would want but then the penalty was awarded early in the second half and it changed the game.”
As for Swifts boss Kris Lindsay, he claimed he hadn’t see the incident clearly but was thrilled with his first league success.
“To be honest, it was the far edge of the box and there was a crowd of players. I haven’t see it back on the TV and, at the time, I didn’t see it through the crowd of players but it was the assistant who has given it and he was 10 yards away, so he’s probably in the best position. I know Institute were aggrieved about it but it’s one of those things. I’m happy we got it and happy that Mac (Paul McElroy) stuck it away,” he confirmed.
“I’m absoultely delighted with the three points and pleased with the performance levels. I thought for the vast majority of the game we were good without being clincial, I thought we played some nice stuff at times.
“We got in behind them and created chances but we just aren’t clincial enough at this stage. Again, we started the game sloppy and concede early and we have done that in most games this season. We have given ourselves mountains to climb but to be fair to the boys they have shown character and desire in all of the games.
“They came back against Ballymena, twice against Ards, but you can’t continually keep doing that and we have to work on how we start games, but overall I thought we were excellent.
“We played well after we scored and kept pressing and trying to play forward to try and get that second goal, which eventually came.”