It's round three.
When Jonathan Gabay delivered his ludicrous branding report on the League of Ireland last December, he was derided for a series of frankly mental proposals, which included scores being displayed on bus stops, and FIFA competitions on giant screens at half-time in games at grounds with a notable lack of giant screens. While most of the proposals were nonsense, one of his pointers in the report has been taken on board by the denizens of the league.
Gabay encouraged managers to speak controversially to the media, and Stephen Kenny and John Caulfield have responded dutifully.
Kenny launched a pretty remarkable rant last Thursday, in which he complained that Dundalk had not been awarded a penalty in a year, while accusing Cork of "manufacturing" penalties.
It’s an amazing statistic and it is hard to believe in that period that Cork City have had THIRTEEN penalties the beginning of last year! THIRTEEN penalties. There’s a huge disparity there. Thirteen penalties is outrageous.
Our players have been very honest. The problem now is that there is a tendency to have manufactured penalties...
....We have seen with the penalty Cork got against Shamrock Rovers a few weeks ago where Rovers lost 2-1 in Tallaght. That sort of manufacturing of penalties has to be stopped. They are being given too easily.
As a club we have to rise above all of that. There is a massive disparity in the decision making process. Is it Turner’s Cross? Why the disparity?
Caulfield fired back after his side's 2-0 win over Bohemians on Good Friday, calling for the FAI to investigate what he termed an "astonishing attack" by Kenny:
It was an astonishing attack on League of Ireland referees and assistant referees. I'm sure the relevant authorities will deal with it.
There's great guys doing their best. Some days you get them, some days you don't, but overall I think the standard is very good. I just read it as an astonishing attack.
And now, Kenny has responded to Caulfield's response to him. Speaking to Gavin McLaughlin of dundalksport.ie, Kenny has said that Caulfield's words were tantamount to a "personal attack" on him:
I didn’t criticise the officials. I referenced the fact that players are manufacturing penalties and that referees need to be more vigilant to it. That was the main point of it.
It’s not an easy job for referees to do that and it’s difficult for them to ascertain that at times. Players are ‘creative’ in doing it, if I can use that word.
I think his personal attack on me is quite low. As a fellow manager you should never launch personal attacks like that and that’s disappointing.
We await Caulfield's response to Kenny's response to Caulfield's original response to Kenny.