Disciplinary process under the spotlight following bans
While it should be all about cup finals and the destination of league titles, instead the Wexford Football League disciplinary process is coming under the spotlight, writes Brendan Furlong.
When the management committee met last week, severe suspensions were handed down to managers and players following lengthy hearings, but the decisions are now a source of controversy.
Three players came before the committee on the receipt of various referee's reports for alleged head butting incidents, but the variations in the suspensions imposed for what were similar offences reported by each referee have led to huge unrest among some clubs.
Two players, John St. Ledger (New Ross Celtic) and Paul Forde (Enniscorthy United), were both handed 16-game bans, while Premier Division player of the year, James Carty (Shamrock Rovers), was given the minimum six-game ban.
The reasoning behind the decisions is not quite clear, but in each instance the referee's report clearly stated 'head butting'. While both St. Ledger and Forde accepted the offence as outlined, Shamrock Rovers - who were represented at the meeting by club officer Seán Miller, along with Carty, pleaded their case. They said that Carty was pushed forward in the incident with North End's Jason Murphy, claiming this contributed to the incident.
The committee accepted one half of referee Anthony Tobin's report, handing a two-game ban to 'keeper Lee Murphy for a professional foul in the same game, but having reviewed the remainder of the report they decided on a six-game ban for Carty, who still missed his side's final league-winning game against Kilmore United on Sunday.
Most disciplinary decisions in sport give the aggrieved party some concern, but clubs in the league are alarmed at the lack of consistency in dealing with referee's reports which are quite specific when relating to the incidents which occurred during the course of a game.
The differing treatment relating to one of the three players, reported for similar incidents, is now a cause for real concern with clubs up in arms with the manner in which the various reports were dealt with.
Two managers also felt the wrath of the committee, with both Nicky Murphy (Shamrock Rovers) and Aidan Browne (Moyne Rangers) handed eight-game bans.
Murphy was reported by referee Nicky Boland after his club's crucial league game away to Courtown Hibs where he was sent from the ground having disputed the disallowing of a goal for offside, while Browne came under the microscope of referee Damien Donovan in his side's cup semi-final defeat to North End United.
Shamrock Rovers lodged an appeal against Murphy's ban, allowing him to take his place in dug-out as his side clinched the league title against Kilmore United on Sunday.
However, two North End players, Jason Murphy and Lee Wadding, will miss next Sunday's cup final having accumulated yellow card offences which bring a one-game ban.