Derry match marred by ugly scenes


PRECIOUS little goodwill remained between the National League leading duo after an unseemly and ugly half time row culminated in dismissals for both the Derry City manager Felix Healy and the Bohemians' centre half James Coll.

Afterwards, three Bohemians directors, club President Tony O'Connell, secretary Donal Crowther and treasurer Ollie Ward, vowed never to attend games at the Brandywell again due to what they perceive as persistent shortcomings by referees at the venue. The club is to consider legal action over yesterday's events.

There were also some nasty exchanges outside the dressing room afterwards, as players from both sides squared up to each other and exchanged insults, during which time referee Paddy Dempsey was hit with a plastic water container.

So disenchanted were Turlough O'Connor and the visiting players at half time that it had required persuasion from Bohemians directors to ensure that their players actually returned to the fray for the second half. That Derry City subsequently won by virtue of a contentious penalty three minutes into the second half merely hardened Bohemians' collective sense of injustice.

A forgettable enough first half had been made even more so within seconds of its conclusion as Healy approached referee Pat Dempsey to air his annoyance that Coll had not been booked for three early fouls on the Derry striker Gary Beckett. Coll, standing nearby, took exception to this and the two went eyeball to eyeball before Healy appeared to punch Coll who then, according to the referee "retaliated".

Dempsey ordered Healy off the pitch and told him to stay away from the dug out for the second half, before brandishing Coll with a red card. An outraged Coll, who maintained he had pushed Healy with an open hand had to be restrained by fellow player Eoin Mullen as he set off in hot pursuit of, presumably, Healy, as did an equally annoyed O'Connor by linesman Sean Brady.

Healy subsequently apologised to Dempsey, who revealed that he would also be reporting the lack of security at the time and a postmatch incident when he was showered with a bucket of water, though O'Connor hotly disputed Dempsey's claim as to who the culprit was.

A recalcitrant Healy, looking 7 somewhat sheepish, repeated his apology afterwards. "I shouldn't have got involved with James Coll. It's not something I'm proud of." He was apologising, he said, "first of all to the club, because it's not the way the manager should behave and also to everybody involved."

However, that cut little ice with O'Connor, still visibly upset half an hour after the game. His voice almost breaking, O'Connor left the visitors' dressing room with the comment. "He didn't apologise to James Coll. That's the lad who's been hurt by all of this today. If he (Healy) is being totally honest, the first apology should be to James Coll."

O'Connor repeatedly asserted that Healy "had initiated everything" in the half time kerfuffle. "The opposing managing has a lot of answers to make. From midway through the first half the instructions (from the Derry dugout) were deplorable. He (Healy) will have to answer to that himself. What he said about Paul Doolin (the former Derry player who joined Bohemians this season) left a lot to be desired."

O'Connell, the Bohemians president, subsequently revealed that he and several other directors would not be attending games at the Brandywell again. "As far as concerned the referees have bottled it here every time. I've nothing against the Derry people but I won't be coming here again."