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Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
INPHO/Donall Farmer Mathews was unhappy with the official's performance.
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Post-match reaction: Mathews and Kenny unite in criticism of referees
The referee, and officiating in general, was the main topic of contention after last night’s game between Rovers and Shels.

BOTH SHELBOURNE MANAGER Alan Mathews and Rovers boss Stephen Kenny were unhappy after referee Derek Tomney produced two red cards during the sides’ clash last night.

A red card in the seventh minute for Shelbourne goalkeeper Dean Delaney changed the course of the game, and Mathews felt the decision was a harsh one:

“We were denied the opportunity to show where we’re at because we weren’t able to play Rovers with 11 men,” he said. “The referee decided to send off our keeper. I thought it was quite rash, but as soon as he made the challenge, you could see the referee reaching with great speed for his back pocket.”

And when asked if he was surprised by any of the decisions this evening, Mathews replied: “Nothing surprises me with the standard of the refereeing [in the Airtricity League].”

He expressed concern at the recent upsurge in red cards being handed out, including seven in total last weekend in the league:

“There’s people getting sent off left, right and centre,” he said. “Good referees are seen but seldom heard.”

Mathews refused to place too much blame on his team, saying that the “players have been very good pre-season,” and promised that his side will learn from the experience.

On the subject of defender Stephen Hurley’s freak own goal, he said: “I don’t think you’ll see the like of [the second goal] across Europe this weekend… But in fairness to Stephen, he’s put it behind him.”

He added: ”You have to give credit to Rovers, they took advantage of that.”

(Shelbourne goalkeeper Dean Delaney is sent off – INPHO/Donall Farmer)

Kenny, meanwhile, also expressed concern over the recent number of red cards in the league.

In particular, he questioned the referee’s decision to send off Rovers substitute Gary McCabe in the dying stages of the game for an alleged dive, arguing:

“He was clipped. There’s no motivation for [diving], we’re 4-0 up. It seemed harsh.”

However, he refrained from condemning the recent performances of referees too severely: “They’re an easy target. Go to every country and they say the same thing.”

Nonetheless, he added:

“It would appear that the ratio of red cards is higher compared to other leagues in Europe. It’s difficult for players, because they don’t know whether to tackle. That’s why I took off centre-half, because I was afraid he’d be sent off.”

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Kenny also said he believes referees have been instructed to treat bad tackles more harshly this season.

“There obviously is some kind of directive. Most are trying to do the best they can and be as balanced as they can, but the proliferation of red cards seems unnecessary.”

And while he admitted the game “didn’t give a clear picture because of the sending off,” he praised his side’s “incisive and intelligent passing,” while admitting that their second-half performance was “a bit sloppy”.

And on the subject of the impressive Ronan Finn, Kenny said his best position “depends on the game,” and added:

“He was very good tonight. He can play in quite a few positions. When he’s in full flow, he displays great skills and is very good to watch.”

Read: As it happened: Shamrock Rovers v Shelbourne, Airtricity League>

Read: Column: Shelbourne doing it their way, and doing just fine>