Heated derby loss stings, Crewe boss McCarthy admits

EAMONN McCarthy admits there’s no love lost between his Crewe United and Ballymacash Rangers after three players were sent off in a feisty Steel Cup win for the visitors on Saturday.

derby barely warrants the description if there’s no needle in the game, and Saturday’s quarter-final between the fierce rivals lived up to the name, with both sides pumped up and determined not to be bullied.

But while McCarthy readily admits it was a full-blooded cup tie, particularly with a last four berth at stake, he insists it was more competitive than ill-tempered, and disagreed with the dismissals of Tiernan McAuley and Michael Moore for some argy-bargy towards the end.

“It wasn’t really that sort of match,” the Crewe United boss told the Belfast Telegraph.

“It was a derby and derbies are… they had a bad tackle in the first half and we had a bad tackle in the second half, there was a bit of pushing and shoving at one stage but I thought the referee was very harsh in sending the two lads off.

“Yes there was a skirmish, but there was a big crowd at the game, it’s a derby match, but there was hardly a bad tackle in the game.

“Two of note, the rest of the game was played in the right manner. There was no quarter given, don’t be getting me wrong, but to send two people off, I thought it was a bit harsh.

“The two clubs don’t exactly love each other, but there was no real malice. Tiernan who got sent off for us has never been sent off in senior football, he’s not that type.

“And for their sending off, Michael (Moore) was just being Michael, I honestly don’t think it was a red card for either of the lads.

“(For the first Crewe dismissal) Steven Brown lifted his two feet off the ground, dove into a tackle, probably borne out of frustration, in my opinion it was a straight red.

“But one of their lads jumped in with two feet and didn’t get a yellow, so it was very inconsistent, all you ask for is consistency.

“But all in all, I’ve no real complaints.”

With McCarthy’s squad already under pressure due to injuries, the new suspensions are just about the last thing he needed.

But a bigger disappointment to the Crewe chief was the fact his team never really turned up for arguably their biggest game of the season so far.

With a place in the Steel Cup semis at stake — Bangor the opponents as it would turn out — and their big derby rivals at home at Crewe Park, it was a great opportunity for his side to send out a statement.

But by his own admission, there were well off the pace, with Jordan Morrison and Jack Smith on target for the visitors.

“It was just one of those days,” added McCarthy.

“It was a huge game for us, huge, and I’ve always wanted to get my hands on the trophy.

“So I was very disappointed in the manner that we went out. We were beat by a better side, and we didn’t do ourselves justice on the day, and we didn’t play well.”

Searching for positives, McCarthy says Crewe will hunt down their other targets with even more relish now.

“Our goal was always to win the league, that’s the ambition,” he said.

“We’ve played 14 matches and lost twice, so we’ve done well, and we’re in the last stages of the Irish Cup, and in the quarter-finals of our own Premier Cup as well.

“Injuries have hit us at a bad time but listen, we’ll go again, we’ve a game here on Tuesday night and we’ll try to bounce back.”

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