Left: Wicklow manager, John Evan’s voices his disapproval while Right: Antrim manager, Lenny Harbison reflects on the game.
After the dust had settled as Wicklow snatched a draw and a share of the points with the Saffron’s in the Division four National League affair on the Corrigan sod on Sunday last the managers shared their views on the game.
The quality of officialdom and the performance of the man in the middle, Monaghan based whistler Niall Mc Kenna had been a topic for discussion amongst the assembly as they trooped out of the West Belfast arena, and the performance of the referee was top of the agenda.
Indeed when such was put to both managers both Lenny Harbinson and John Evans were less than complimentary on the performance of the man in charge.
Antrim boss Harbinson was of the opinion that the referee failed to take conditions on board on a game which proceeded on a blustery wintry afternoon on a surface which was slippery on top, commenting, ‘I am sure that common sense was lacking on more than one occasion in decisions reached, and that was for both teams, he added.
The Wicklow boss, former Kerry player John Evans was more to the point in his assessment of the Farney based official who said, ‘We were certainly mesmerised by some of the decisions made by the referee to-day and it was more than apparent that the Antrim players were quite adept at gaining frees using greater experience to the optimum. I will not go any further on this matter, but it is quite clear that our players do have a lot to learn in this department.
The Wicklow boss may well have had his tongue firmly in cheek in making such comments which were certainly not borne out in the statistics, as the visitors scored nine of their twelve points from placed balls, with net-minder Mark Jackson coming forward to raise four white flags whilst Antrim delivered seven from play and five from free kicks.
The Wicklow manager did possibly have cause to be more content with the point gained after mid-fielder Rory Finn split the posts nearing conclusion to see the Leinster men draw alongside their hosts and the home side did fluff their lines a couple of times in the last few minutes as replacements CJ Mc Gourty and Kristan Healey were just off target.
‘We were really disappointed last time out losing heavily to London, said the Wicklow boss and although they are a good team we just did not perform at Ruislip. There is spirit in this team and we certainly rose to the challenge to-day.
Controversial as some of the decisions made to-day and the adversity of the conditions, and the sending’s off we stuck to the task in hand and deserved the point gained’.
The Antrim manager said, ‘Although the pundits had installed us as firm favourites and on reflection we should have pushed on to claim the win after recovering from a poor start and coming from four points in arrears to draw level at half time going in at the break 0-06 apiece and a couple of points ahead with just minutes remaining on the clock’.
‘We had fully expected a tough test from Wicklow, he continued, I am more than sure they had not done themselves justice against London and they came here seeking better and really needing something out of the game to keep league ambitions alive’.
‘Our lads had worked hard to put themselves in prime position to take the points, but credit where credit is due Wicklow dug deep and vigorously contested every ball.
The ground staff here at St John’s had done a splendid job to get the pitch in shape for the game but this was much a war of attrition on a heavy pitch and it proved tough for both the teams’.
Laois and Carlow both secured victories on Sunday gaining wins over Waterford and Leitrim making things a little more difficult for the Saffron’s on the promotion trail, but the Antrim boss is adamant that nothing is done and dusted as yet saying, ‘I am sure that the tale is far from told and there may well be twists and turns in the games ahead and with a trip to an obviously improving London side looming large on the horizon we will certainly not be under estimating them’.
Antrim travel to London on 24th to meet up with the Exiles and are on the road again the following week-end as they travel down to Laois.