Referees are under too much pressure says Fenlon
PAT FENLON believes League of Ireland referees are under too much pressure after Wednesday's Dublin derby became the latest match to be overshadowed by poor officiating.
Managers are growing increasingly frustrated with refereeing performances this season and Derek Tomney was in the line of fire after his decision to dismiss Aidan Downes just before half-time as Bohemians held Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght.
Michael O'Neill branded as "ridiculous" the decision to issue the striker with a second yellow card for diving after he went down following contact with Jim Paterson in the Rovers' penalty area.
Rovers were later denied a second- half penalty, while Fenlon reckoned there was a foul in the Hoops' opening goal.
Both managers were equally unhappy with Tomney's performance.
Last week, Richie Winter was twice in the spotlight after his decision to send off Bray Wanderers' Shane O'Connor as they lost to Rovers and his performance in the draw between Bohemians and St Patrick's Athletic, which left Fenlon furious.
The Bohs' boss believes referees need to be more patient with their decisions, but he also believes they need better instruction from the FAI and more common sense.
"I don't think it's the referees," he said. "I think they're under serious pressure from people assessing them, and some of the people assessing them aren't even referees.
"I understand how difficult it is for them, but the art of common sense has gone out of the game. You talk to them off the pitch and they tell you they're not allowed to use common sense, it's by the book or else you get dropped or relegated.
"I don't think they take enough time to think about it, it's a case of not being able to take the card out of the pocket quick enough. They're booking players for very little at the moment."
O'Neill despaired after a number of second-half decisions went against his team and believes refereeing in the league is at an all-time low.
"I'm not sure if it's possible to get any worse to be honest," he said. "At the end of the day, you know, I think it has to be looked at. I think I'm just one of a number of managers. Pat (Fenlon) will have grievances as well and understandably so."
Rovers know they can retain their title with four wins from their last four games. However, with many looking to Rovers' experience as being a key factor in the run-in, O'Neill pointed out that there are plenty of new faces in his squad this time around.
"It's a different squad of players," he said. "At the end of the day, we've a lot of players here who have not won a Championship or have not won one with Rovers.
"We're going to find out if they're strong enough to do that in the next few weeks."
The Hoops are away to Bray on Sunday, while Sligo visit St Patrick's Ahtletic on Saturday when third-placed Derry go to Dundalk.