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Controversy sees Pats fall

A MOMENT of World Cup fever came to Tallaght Stadium last night which left Shamrock Rovers elated at their new-found status as Premier Division leaders, but also left St Patrick's Athletic deflated.

And today Saints boss Pete Mahon was scathing in his criticism of the decision in injury time which, similar to the dénouement of the Uruguay-Ghana game, cost his club dearly -- the 2-1 win for Rovers at home to Pats last night meant that the Hoops replace Pats as table-toppers.

In last night's thrilling game in Tallaght, played in front of a crowd of 4,803, Ryan Guy filled in for Asamoah Gyan and Billy Dennehy became Luis Suarez, as Rovers man Dennehy clearly handled the ball on the goalline to prevent a Pats effort from Paul Byrne going in -- an injury-time equalising goal which would almost certainly have given Pats a 2-2 draw.


Dennehy was sent off with no complaints from the home side and from the resulting penalty, Guy's effort was saved by Rovers keeper Alan Mannus so Rovers held on for the win. Two goals from Thomas Stewart earned Rovers the win, but the acclaim for Dennehy from his team-mates at the final whistle -- the Kerry native was patted on the back just as Suarez was feted by his Uruguay team-mates -- showed that he'd played a massive role in a massive win for the Hoops.

But the difference between Soccer City and Tallaght Stadium was that Pats maintain that the ball was clearly over the line when Dennehy handled, and the Saints insist that the goal should have been allowed to stand instead of the penalty.

"I am disappointed with the manner of our defeat. I don't want to detract from Rovers, they played very well last night, but there's no hiding behind the fact that their first goal was offside and our equalising goal, which wasn't allowed, was over the line twice," said Mahon, as Pats suffered their fifth defeat of the season, the second at the hands of Rovers.

"I'll probably get into trouble for saying that but I have to say what I am thinking. I give credit where it's due but I am annoyed.


"The linesman over on the far side was getting dog's abuse all night and I think he bottled it in the end. He ran 30 or 40 yards to tell the referee that the ball wasn't over the line. Goalline technology, maybe?" Mahon asked.

"But we can't afford to have proper toilets in this league, so how can we afford to have video technology? You need good eyesight, honesty and bravery. You can have all the technology you want but if you haven't got those in life, then I don't know."

Mahon has been in the game long enough to know that, while the Dennehy incident was the defining moment in the game, before that Pats had only themselves to blame for the loss of points as they had taken the lead early in the second half, Derek Doyle making it four goals in two games for the Saints on 50 minutes.

Captain Damian Lynch floated in a free kick, which was blocked by Chris Turner, but Doyle finished calmly.

Having lost to Bohemians in the Setanta Cup final in Tallaght, Pats scented revenge on the same turf but their lead lasted only 13 minutes, Thomas Stewart got Rovers level when he beat Gary Rogers from a well-taken cross by sub James Chambers, on as an early replacement for the injured Aidan Price.

Stewart has haunted Pats already this season, scoring both goals when the Hoops won 2-1 in April, and he did the same trick again last night, firing past Rogers on 80 minutes after Gary Twigg had an effort blocked.

There was more drama in injury time with the goal that wasn't, the red card for Dennehy and the missed penalty, and while Mahon praised the resilience of the home side who fought back to win, that last piece of drama still hurt.

"I wasn't happy with the display of the players over 90 minutes, I can't hide the fact that we didn't pass the ball well enough at times. We had a draw in the palm of our hand at the end, the linesman said the ball wasn't over the line. I have 14 people in our dressing room who said it was over the line and that's good enough for me," Mahon added.


"There were long spells of the match where I thought that Rovers were in the ascendancy and we had a lot of defending to do, but that doesn't hide the fact that their first goal was offside. I am blessed with good eyesight and I could see it. We have to come back from this, we can't be negative, we don't want to be looking for excuses. There will be no post-mortems after this, no video analysis needed, I know what I saw.

"As I said in my programme notes for last week's game, what you need to be an assistant referee is to be able to assist the referee, but you also need good eyesight, honesty and bravery.

"I hope the game was a good advert for the league and will help get the crowds back.

"In fairness to Rovers they always have a good crowd and a good atmosphere in Tallaght and we brought a good support here as well. We just have to be positive and move on to the UCD game," Mahon added.