‘I don't know what they'd be seeing’ – Damien Duff blasts standard of refereeing in League of Ireland

Shelbourne manager Damien Duff isn't happy with the standard of refereeing in the League of Ireland. Image: Sportsfile.

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Damien Duff believes that the increase in crowds and the playing standard in the League of Ireland is being “let down” by the level of refereeing.

Duff’s Shelbourne side lost their two-game unbeaten run with a 1-0 defeat at home to league leaders Derry City on Friday night.

Ryan Graydon scored the only goal of the game on 11 minutes but while Duff admits that there was a debate among his coaching staff on the merits of a late claim for a Shels penalty, Duff was angered by a decision to book defender Paddy Barrett early in the second half, his second bookable offence which led to dismissal and Shels having to take on the league leaders for 40 minutes with 10 men.

"We're let down again. It's just a poor, poor decision. I don't know what they'd be seeing at times," an energised Duff told RTE after the game.

"And it's not just me saying it, the fans in the stadium whether it be home or away, I'm sure Ruaidhri [Higgins] has said it many times himself, other opposing managers and coaches, so it's not acceptable. We're trying to up the standards. The fans are amazing in every ground, not just Shelbourne fans, [but] every ground in the country there's a sell-out week in, week out. Standards are going through the roof. Referees need to come with us."

He insisted that Barrett had not fouled Derry forward Jamie McGinigle in the crucial incident.

“You end up playing with 10 men against one of the best teams in the country, I will always take responsibility for results, but absolutely the officials have played a big part, without a doubt, I don't think anyone in the ground can disagree. It's not a yellow and it's not a foul,” Duff said later on.

"The referee has called it dangerous play, McGonigle backing into him, as a coach you are going to tell your defender to be aggressive, come around the side of him, he hasn't touched him in the face. I said on RTE it was unacceptable, there's many words to describe it but let's call a spade a spade, I didn't think the sending off was a foul, it was a yellow, he [referee] took so many cards out I think he was confusing himself. It's never a sending off, I thought it was good defending and not a foul."

After another defeat to their FAI Cup final conquerors Derry, Duff admitted it was a tense night.

“It's frustrating in how it unfolded. They got the goal 10/15 minutes in, a worked set piece that we're disappointed with, they started strong in the first 20 minutes,” he said.

“After that I thought we finished the first half strongly, we were smelling blood at half time, it wasn't to come out and put in a gallant effort or heroic performance, to look for a draw, it was to go and win the game. With the referee after that, we ended up playing 45-50 minutes against one of the best teams in the country, so that's going to be a struggle.

"The most important thing with 10 men is to stay in the game, we were coming back out for the second half to win the game, Kian Leavy came on and did well, galvanised us, sparked us a bit. We stayed in it, that's a plus but the decision to go down to 10 men was going to play a big factor.”