Niall Carew uses column to blast ‘weak’ referee

By Daragh Ó Conchúir

Niall Carew has accused referee Martin McNally of being weak and turning against Sligo in the second half of their defeat to Longford on Sunday, after the manager had approached the Monaghan whistler at half time.

Writing in his Sligo Champion column, Carew insists that McNally made it personal against his players, and also refers to a “Rambo umpire” telling him to move on.

The former Waterford boss was particularly outraged by the failure to award a free to Mark Breheny late on, following a challenge that left the skipper with a dislocated collarbone.

Sligo fell to a five-point victory at Markievicz Park against Longford, leaving them with just one win from four games. That leaves them just above the relegation zone with a trip to Newbridge to take on Carew’s native county and table-toppers Kildare coming up on Sunday.

Carew acknowledges that his players were flat for much of the game and struggled to win either primary possession or breaking ball in the middle third. These are areas they could work on but there was nothing they could do about a referee’s performance, he states.

“To add insult to injury, we had a referee that was weak and took things personally against my players” writes Carew. “When I asked him a question at half time in relation to bringing the ball up his reply was ‘Your lads will not question my decision.’

“So how can a player improve if the ref will not explain his action? Because as we all know rules are interpreted differently every week.

“Meanwhile, the referee’s 'Rambo' umpire then gives me a look as if he was going to sort me out... and tells me to go away. All because I asked the referee a question at half time.”

He continues: “Mark Breheny could not buy a free up front and these same frees were given to Longford at the other end of the field. In the last play of the game Mark got taken out of it by two defenders and has ended up with his collarbone out of place.

“Oh and no, he didn’t get a free with the referee claiming it was a shoulder-to-shoulder tackle.

“So that was the theme for me. The referee had made it personal.”

Carew went on to say that while this wasn’t necessarily a common experience for him in dealing with referees, it wasn’t unique.

“It's amazing. I thought referees were there to protect players and enforce the rules but in this case, this man was here to protect his ego along with his bouncer of an umpire.

“People will probably say ‘You're a sore loser’ and they’re right, I am. I did congratulate Longford on their victory but I can't congratulate a team of officials who are more worried about their egos than anything else. This is just an insight into what you deal with from some officials. Not all, just some.

Carew also looks briefly towards a clash with the Lilywhites, who he coached and was a selector with for five years under Kieran McGeeney’s management.

“We take on Kildare next Sunday in Newbridge and this game is massive for both teams. Kildare are unbeaten and we are fighting for our lives. That alone has all the hallmarks for a tense affair.

“It will be my first time to manage against my home county so it will be my first time ever that I hope Kildare are beaten.”


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