Shannon culprits named as details emerge in ref abuse incident

DETAILS emerged yesterday of the barrage of abuse launched at a top referee which led to a €25,000 fine being imposed on Shannon RFC following incidents after an AIL game in Limerick.

Former international and Labour member of Limerick City Council, Cllr Gerry ‘Ginger’ McLoughlin has been identified as the person who led the verbal assault on leading referee, George Clancy.

The stormy scenes flared at Coonagh after a crucial AIL Division 1A game on December 5 between Shannon and Cork Constitution.

According to Mr Clancy’s official match report and those of the touch judge sent to the IRFU, the incidents occurred after Cork Constitution were awarded a penalty five metres out in front of the posts in the last play of the game which led to Shannon, who led up that stage, losing the game by a point, 9-8.

According to yesterday’s edition of the Limerick Leader, Mr Clancy in his report said the game had been played in a very good spirit, apart from one incident of foul play which merited a yellow card against one Cork Con player.

In his report Mr Clancy stated: “As might be expected, Shannon were very disappointed at losing this crucial match. However, as I was walking off the pitch to the changing room I was subjected to severe verbal abuse from the Shannon supporters. In particular, Cllr Gerry McLoughlin repeatedly accused me of being ‘a cheat’.

“After I entered the referee’s changing room the door burst open as Mr Martin Clancy (Shannon RFC club president) tried to gain admittance. He was restrained so by my assistant referees Olly Hodges and Tommy O’Donoghue, and I eventually left, but not before saying that I was a ‘f***ing disgrace’. I must acknowledge that, until that point, I have always been on excellent terms with Shannon RFC and officers of their club.”

Assistant referee, Tommy O’Donoghue, in his report stated that ”it was quite evident that Gerry McLoughlin was leading an amount of verbal abuse at George Clancy calling him a cheat, a c*** and a bastard. This gave way to people coming behind McLoughlin and join in the verbal abuse’.

Mr O’Donoghue said Martin Clancy called the referee a “Bruff bastard, a f***ing disgrace and a no-good cheat...This was repeated a number of times as myself and Olly Hodges tried to guide Mr Clancy out the door.”

Shannon RFC have until tomorrow to lodge an appeal the €25,000 fine.

A six-point deduction imposed on Shannon’s league tally has been suspended, as this was deemed to be a punishment on the players, who were not at fault. However, the deduction can be activated if the club gets into trouble with officialdom during the remainder of the season.

Shannon PRO, Andrew McNamara said the club does not condone any form of abuse of referees. He said when they met the IRFU, the disciplinary committee accepted the club’s explanation that Martin Clancy’s behaviour on the occasion was totally out of character and he was issued with a warning about his future conduct.

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