Sport Soccer

Monday 18 December 2017

Cook stews over players' suspension

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

PAUL COOK has broken his silence on the suspension of key duo Richie Ryan and Matthew Blinkhorn for the FAI Ford Cup final on Sunday week.

The Sligo Rovers boss had been unwilling to speak about the final while the league campaign was ongoing, but at yesterday's press day at the Showgrounds, the Liverpudlian called for the FAI to ensure that in future seasons, players do not miss out on the season's showpiece because of yellow cards.

Both players picked up bans for accumulated bookings, with midfielder Ryan receiving eight this season, and Blinkhorn four. Cook says he has no problem with the rules, but believes the blue riband event should be exempt from bans.

"I'm not slagging off the FAI, but it is not right," Cook said. "For the lads to miss a game at the Aviva is not right. I don't care who is suspended or who is involved, it is not right. And whether the FAI does not do it now, please do it next year.

"When you are the governing body of the league I always thought you can do what you want. We are not trying to get in trouble and we are not trying to cause controversy.

"All we are saying is if something is not working today for us in the league, then make it better for next year.

"Don't let us brush it under the table, let's look at it and say 'right, the new rules for next year are such and such'."

Last year Cook lost club captain Conor O'Grady for the final defeat to Sporting Fingal, while the previous year Bohemians went into their clash with Derry City without Jason McGuinness due to yellow cards.

"I have great sympathy for any lad who is missing a cup final," Cook said. "I am all for rules. You have to stand behind rules, but how a lad can play all season, never be suspended and miss a game after the season ends -- I can't get my head around it.

"Common sense should prevail. I feel for Richie, he's been possibly our player of the year. Yes, he has totted up eight bookings but should he miss a cup final? His suspension should carry over (to next season).

"Blinks has been booked four times in Ireland, playing in the League of Ireland since the July before last and he's never been suspended.

"People should have common sense enough to look at that and say 'he's a good kid, he's never been suspended and we're going to make him miss a cup final'.

"They (Ryan and Blinkhorn) are devastated. Richie Ryan's family had a coach coming from Tipperary and Blinkhorn has all types of people flying in from England. And now they have been hit with this."

Irish Independent

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