Shannon’s appeal date set over €25,000 fine for referee rant

AIB League champions Shannon will have their appeal against a €25,000 fine heard by the Irish Rugby Football Union in Dublin on Wednesday.

The massive fine was imposed when stormy scenes flared at Coonagh after a crucial AIL Division 1 game on December 5 between Shannon and Cork Constitution.

Referee George Clancy and his touch judge Tommy O’Donoghue claimed in their official reports that they were verbally abused following a controversial decision to award the visitors a penalty five metres out in front of the post in the last play of the game which led to Shannon, who led up that stage, losing the game 9-8.

In his report, 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 president) tried to gain admittance. He was restrained by my assistant referees Olly Hodges and Tommy O’Donoghue, and I eventually left, but not before saying that I was a ‘f**king 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 O’Donoghue, in his report stated: “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.”

O’Donoghue said Martin Clancy called the referee a “Bruff bastard, a f**king 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”.

The champions were hit with a heavy fine and a six-point deduction in league points, suspended until the end of 2010/2011 by the IRFU.

Shannon officials have reiterated their admission that there was abuse of the referee and that the club could not condone such actions by supporters.

In a statement yesterday, Shannon’s public relations officer Andrew McNamara confirmed the club had appealed the severity of the penalty imposed and said: “Shannon RFC has never condoned abuse of match officials and apologises most sincerely for the actions of certain members/supporters on the occasion.”

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