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Hoban says spitting incident sparked red card confusion

The Dundalk striker had an eventful night as they hosted AEK Larnaca in the Europa League.

Tempers flare between Patrick Hoban and Hector Heve Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

PATRICK HOBAN HAS explained the circumstances which led to the Dundalk striker being shown a red card in their Europa League second round qualifier against AEK Larnaca.

Hoban was briefly dismissed for a second booking by referee Harald Lechner in the second half of the first leg of their tie at Oriel Park last night, which finished goalless.

However, Hoban was called back and the decision was reversed when the Austrian official realised that the 26-year-old hadn’t already received a yellow card in the game.

The visitors had been awarded a free-kick when Hoban was penalised for a challenge on goalkeeper Tońo Ramirez. That sparked an altercation, during which the Lilywhites star claims he was spat on by AEK Larnaca midfielder Jorge Larena.

“Obviously the goalie went down after a challenge with me,” Hoban said. “All of them were surrounding me and whatever. I was standing up for myself and their number 7 spat on me, on my arm. That’s why I reacted.

“I went over to the referee to tell him. I told him twice. He pulls me over then and gives me a yellow and a red. At the time I didn’t know what was going on, so I was just like, ‘I’m after getting sent off’, or whatever.

“Obviously he gave me a yellow, but even to get a yellow was a bit much. It was very frustrating. I’m trying to cool my anger here, to be honest.”

Patrick Hoban is red carded by Referee Harald Lechner Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It was a frustrating night overall for the robust forward, who saw his physicality curbed by Lechner’s officiating. The referee awarded several free-kicks to Larnaca after Hoban committed to 50/50 challenges for aerial supremacy.

Hoban has enjoyed a stellar season since returning to Dundalk from a three-year spell in England. He has already netted 22 times in all competitions in 2018 but was unable to add to that tally last night.

“Personally I didn’t feel like I played well, but I worked hard,” he said. “It just felt like I wasn’t even allowed to challenge for a ball. Every time I went up it was a free.”

The tie is delicately poised ahead of the second leg, and Hoban believes Dundalk can head to Cyprus with confidence for Thursday’s return fixture. The prize for the winners is a meeting with Sturm Graz or Ajax in the third qualifying round.

Hoban said: “We have a job to do next Thursday now. We have to make sure we’re level-headed going over there. I felt at times they were good, at times we were good, but our overall quality wasn’t good on the night. We worked very hard but our quality wasn’t there.

“I think we can do a lot better. It’s a pity we didn’t get the goal that we needed but at the end of the day it’s still all to play for over there. We’ll be fully confident in ourselves.”

– Additional reporting by Caoimhín Reilly

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Paul Dollery

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