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'It's very harsh' - O'Donnell's sympathy for Bohs rival Long over FAI Cup final suspension

The Bohs manager won’t be on the touchline for Sunday’s showpiece occasion following a sending off in a recent league meeting with Shamrock Rovers.

SAINT PATRICK’S ATHLETIC coach Stephen O’Donnell believes Bohemian’s manager Keith Long does not deserve to be suspended for this Sunday’s FAI Cup final. 

Pat’s and Bohs meet at the Aviva Stadium for Irish football’s showpiece occasion on Sunday afternoon, and Long will not be permitted to join O’Donnell on the touchline. 

Long is serving a suspension having been sent off in a recent league meeting with Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount Park, and as a result is not permitted on the touchline and nor is he allowed be with his team an hour before kick-off and within an hour of the full-time whistle. 

keith-long-leaves-the-pitch-after-being-sent-off Long leaves the field after his sending off against Shamrock Rovers. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Long and Rovers manager Stephen Bradley were involved in a confrontation during a feisty league meeting earlier this month, for which both men were sent to the stands. 

“Yeah, of course I do”, said O’Donnell when asked if he had sympathy for Long.

“You work so hard – every manager puts in so much work – and it’s the same for the coaching staff as it is for the players as regards the day out. To work so hard and not be on the sideline is a big thing.

“I wouldn’t be a fan of it, I think it’s very harsh. Keith has earned his right to be on the sideline, whether you could serve the suspension at a different time, rather than take the Cup final off him. I wouldn’t be a fan of it, I think you could come up with another way of serving out a punishment, rather than take the opportunity to coach your team from the sideline in a Cup final.” 

Manager Alan Matthews chimed in agreement. 

“I don’t think anyone would have an issue is Keith had to serve his suspension in the first league game of next season, or anyone who falls into a suspension this week, if it was put back to next season. As Stephen says, it’s a heavy price to pay for whatever indiscretion caused him to be sent off. It’s a tough punishment.” 

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O’Donnell says he expects to have a fully fit squad for the final, bar long-term absentee John Mountney. Pat’s are going to the Aviva Stadium on Friday to familiarise themselves with their surroundings, though won’t train on the grass prior to matchday. 

stephen-odonnell Stephen O'Donnell with the FAI Cup at Richmond Park. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

Bohs have no such concerns, having played three European games at the venue earlier this year. 

“I suppose they have experience of playing on the pitch”, said O’Donnell. “The whole team that will play on Sunday would have played in those European games, played in the arena, played on the pitch. But it’s a totally different dynamic now.

“They would have been classed as home games, whereas Sunday is a cup final and there are going to be partisan crowds for both teams and there is a prize at the end of it. It’s a totally different occasion and different dynamic on Sunday.”

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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