IFA wait on ref's 'anarchy' report
REFEREE Raymond Crangle will this morning deliver a damning report into the ugly scenes that caused Saturday's Irish Cup fifth round match between Newry City and Larne to be abandoned.
Crangle, who was promoted to the FIFA list of referees earlier this month, was forced to call a halt to the game with eight minutes left as a series of mini-brawls broke out on the pitch after he had sent-off a second Larne player in the space of a couple of minutes.
"My report is ready to go to the IFA," said Crangle. "Myself and my two assistants have tried to pick out the instigators, but it was difficult for three people to see everything.
"There were no problems in the game -- even when the first sending-off happened there was no indication of what was to follow It's the worst thing that I have ever seen on a football pitch and anarchy wouldn't describe it."
There was no hint of the trouble to come when Matt Hazley put Newry 2-1 ahead on 76 minutes. Larne captain Liam Hogan was the first player to be given his marching orders following an incident with Darren King (right).
King was then on the wrong end of a wild tackle by Alan Reid, who was also shown red.
Seconds later, all hell broke lose. Larne manager Paul Millar raced up the touchline to confront one of the referee's assistants. Newry assistant Harry Fay chased after him in an apparent effort to keep the peace, but there was no stopping the rush from the dugouts as clashes occurred all over the pitch, the worst of which saw Newry's Cullen Feeney being attacked by two Larne players as he lay on the ground (pictured above).
"It all happened so quickly. It's a bit of a blur now. It wasn't until I saw pictures in the papers that I saw how serious it was," said Feeney last night.
"It's the worst thing that I have ever been involved in during my football career and I'm lucky I suppose that I wasn't seriously hurt," he added.
Speaking in the immediate aftermath of the game, Newry manager John McDonnell said the fracas had kicked off out of nothing.
"It was not nice what happened," added the former St Patrick's Athletic boss. "I tried to get my players off the pitch as quickly as possible. We were cruising with seven or eight minutes to go and I'd like to be talking about a cup win but instead we have to wait on the referee's report."
With the PSNI almost certain to launch an investigation, Larne released an official statement last night in which they unequivocally condemned "all violence at soccer matches".