It is a pity that what Neil Lennon said, and what he did, at Rugby Park overshadowed a thunderous, topsy-turvy confrontation in Ayrshire.
Yet, the Hibernian manager was right to be angry about the award of a penalty for handball that allowed Kilmarnock to claim an equaliser in a game they dominated for an hour, after finding themselves two down inside ten minutes. He was wrong, though, very wrong, to clap in the face of referee Kevin Clancy in angrily sarcastic fashion after the official red-carded him for comments to fourth official Gavin Ross after the 59th-minute spot-kick given for Alan Power battering a shot against the tucked-in arm of Ryan Porteous as the defender sought to block the effort stretching forward at an angle.
Lennon’s comments that it was guesswork; that it was “personal” from Clancy after the Hibs manager had ripped into him for failing to award Hibs a penalty when Rangers’ David Bates actually was guilty of deliberate handball in Rangers’ December win at Easter Road; that Scottish refereeing was “amateur”, “Mickey Mouse”; that he didn’t want Clancy to referee his team again this season, and that it should be possible to send referees offs, was classic Lennon’s scattergun criticism. Especially, since he also threw in that the artificial surface at Rugby Park was “abysmal”, “dangerous” and “impossible” to play on and made it little wonder Kilmarnock had won their previous seven home games.
Hibs defender Darren McGregor offered a more considered assessment of the afternoon’s events – he even conceded his team were “lucky” to get a point – but essentially concurred with his manager.
All clubs should have grass pitches at the top level, and an explanation from Clancy over a penalty the centre-back could not understand him giving, was McGregor’s desire.
“For anyone who has played the game, in terms of your arm being in an unnatural position, his arm was in a natural position,” he said.
To Stuart Findlay, what Kilmarnock are doing on their pitch is owed entirely to the prompting of Stevie Clarke off it. “He has lifted the entire club. His coaching is on another level,” said the defender. “He has an aura around him and the way he goes about his business he demands hard work and respect. Everyone is willing to run through brick walls for him.”