Dublin derby abandonment 'a disaster for this league'
Fenlon baffled as Bohs count cost after divot forces abandonment
Referee Tomas Connolly last night defended his controversial last minute decision to call off the Dublin derby meeting of Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers.
Bohs president Matt Devaney admitted that the late and embarrassing cancellation of the fixture due to a divot on the penalty spot could cost the Dalymount Park club ‘thousands’ of euro.
The Gypsies were expecting close to a capacity crowd of 3,500 for the SSE Airtricity League meeting of the old rivals but Connolly made the decision to call off the game just 45 minutes before kick-off just as the teams were about to begin their warm-up.
He was particularly dissatisfied with the condition of one penalty spot and had also raised concerns about another area of the pitch. Both Bohemians manager Owen Heary and his Shamrock Rovers counterpart Pat Fenlon felt the match was okay to go ahead, a view that was shared by players in the respective dressing-rooms. However, Connolly stood by his judgement.
“The pitch is not safe,” said Connolly. “I am not an expert on ground but in its current state it’s not possible to play a match due to player safety. That is my main concern and that’s why the match was called off.”
Bohemians were informed of problems with the pitch after Friday’s win over Drogheda United and had laid fresh sod on the damaged area.
Connolly was not convinced that it was fully bedded down to a level that was safe, explaining that a discussion with Dalymount ground-staff indicated it would take eight days.
Devaney fears that it will pose more problems for his cash-strapped club.
“It’s hard to calculate what it’s going to cost,” he said.
“The stewards all have to be paid. Then there’s the logistics of refunding pre-paid tickets, and people probably won’t come to the return leg whenever it’s rescheduled, so it’s hard to calculate. It’s going to be costly.”
Rovers manager Fenlon described the episode as a ‘disaster’ for the league but stressed that it was down to Connolly to make the call.
“It’s nothing to do with us, we can’t do anything about it,” he said. “We just have to go with what the referee says. If he says it’s health and safety of players, well then that’s it.
“We were asked our opinion but I think the decision was already made. We wanted to play, it looked like it would be a big crowd as well.
“Like I said to the ref, it’s not mine or Owen’s call. It’s his decision. He’s the ref, he makes the decisions during the game and we have to live with it. He makes the decisions before the game and we’ve got to live with it.”