Falkirk manager Paul Hartley insists the club will stand by the remorseful Kevin O’Hara after describing the eight-match ban for abusing Dunfermline playmaker Dean Shiels over his missing eye as ‘severe’.
Bairns striker O’Hara was found guilty of ‘excessive misconduct’ by the Scottish FA at a Hampden hearing last Thursday, with the 19-year-old ineligible until the December 2 clash with the Pars.
Shiels, who had an eye removed in 2006 after losing sight in his right side following an accident when he was eight-years-old, was mocked during Falkirk’s 2-0 Irn Bru Cup victory last month.
O’Hara’s team-mate Joe McKee was also faces a SFA disciplinary hearing today after being charged with the same offence.
The Championship club plan to examine the ruling body’s reasons for the length of the ban before weighing up an appeal against the severity of the suspension.
And Hartley insists the club will provide the teenager with emotional support as the player attempts to move on from his ‘mistake’.
Hartley said: “It’s disappointing for the lad in terms of the length of the ban.
“We understand the situation, he is going to be missing football for a long time.
“He is a young man coming into the game, he did make a mistake but it’s a long time to be out of football, with no football whatsoever.
“We think it’s a severe ban. I personally do, although other people might not think that.
“He’s not a bad lad. Anybody that knows him, he is a good boy. Something happened that he regrets and we have to make sure he is okay mentally.
“We’ve got to try and keep him right, in terms of his whole demeanour – mentally and physically.
“I’ve got to look at my player and how this will affect him in the long run, he is a young man.
“Tell me anybody that’s not made a mistake in football?
“We know he made a mistake, we’re disappointed in the length of the ban and we have to make sure we’re there for him.
“He came on the scene at a very young age with a lot of expectation on his shoulders, so as a club we’ll be there for him and as a manager I’ll be there for him.”
O’Hara’s ban also extends to Development League matches and Hartley insists the club will do all they can to ensure that the player, who has made 12 appearances this season, remains in shape during his suspension.
He added: “He’ll be available for the Dunfermline game at New Year and it’s a long time out of football without any Development games.
“He’s just got to train as hard as he can, organise maybe some closed door games just to keep him right.
“He’s had his punishment, he knows that now and we have to make sure he’s right when he comes back.
“Hopefully he’ll come back because he has got a lot of talent, the kid.”