St Patrick’s Athletic boss Liam Buckley became the latest SSE Airtricity League manager to have a pop at the Oriel Park surface following Friday night’s 0-0 draw with Dundalk.
A dogged 90 minutes saw both sides struggle to break each other down and, speaking afterwards, Buckley - who revealed that Keith Fahey turned down the chance to play because of the pitch - said the artificial surface was a big factor in the game ending scoreless.
“It is a hard-fought point, I think that a draw was probably a fair result over the 90 minutes. I don’t think either side did enough to win it but the pitch had a big part to play in it.
“It doesn’t help Dundalk,” he added. “They are a terrific footballing side and they do pass it well but that pitch just absolutely negates all that because you can’t judge it. It takes a bobble, it bounces over you and it just doesn’t help them and certainly didn’t help us. It took away from the game bearing in mind the quality of both teams.”
The scoreless draw was the first that Dundalk have been involved in since the opening day of the 2013 season.
“Dundalk have scored lots of goals and so have we but I think, again, the pitch didn’t help in general play,” said Buckley.
“We like to pass it and link it in but if you look through that 90 minutes I don’t think you will find a period where there was eight, nine, 10 passes before you get a chance.”
Unsurprisingly, Lilywhites supremo Stephen Kenny hit back at Buckley’s claims. Shamrock Rovers boss Trevor Croly and former Derry City manager Roddy Collins were also outspoken about the pitch earlier in the season but Kenny said comments like that were disrespectful to his side.
“It seems to be a weekly occurrence,” he said. “The pitch is certainly better than what it has been in recent years. We’ve spent €25,000 in the past year on maintenance, outside of the work that Harry Taaffe does day to day with his machines and it has passed rigorous UEFA tests.
“We have consistently played well here and people are saying it is the best football they have seen since a different era but we have played well on grass as well.
“People are trying to devalue us and point score a little bit by knocking the pitch but, listen, we’re not getting hung up about it. We don’t have self esteem issues. We’re grand.”