The introduction of the Black Card was the major talking point to arrive out of busy GAA Annual Congress which was held in Derry last Saturday.
In all 60 motions were passed, 10 rejected and three withdrawn. Hawkeye, the public time-clock, the advantage rule as well as GAA grounds being made available for Rugby World Cup games were among those motions which were passed at Congress while the ‘mark’, the clean pick up and a motion that would see the ball moved forward 30 metres instead of 13 metres if a player who commits a foul does not place it on the ground immediately and retreat the required distance were all defeated.
But it was the introduction of the black card that has been the big one to come out of it. This was one of the Football Review Committee’s motions and will be used to deal with ‘Cynical Behaviour’.
From January 1, 2014 a player who commits a foul or infraction that falls under the new ruling will receive a black card which will see them have to leave the field of play and be replaced by a substitute.
We spoke to Fermanagh manager Peter Canavan, captain Ryan McCluskey and leading referee Martin Higgins to gauge their view.
? Peter Canavan
I don’t think it is a move in the right direction at all and I can’t believe the hype and the pleas that surrounded getting this black card rule through. I think the referees are under enough pressure as it is without putting them under more and the problem will still remain in that referees will view it differently; what is a black card and what’s not? No different to what’s a yellow and what’s a red. I would have thought there was enough cards in the game. I’m disappointed and I don’t think it is going to add to our game as much as these experts think it will.
Cynical play is still going to happen. Teams are going to prevent teams attacking, or running down the last five minutes. They are still going to pull players down and if it means getting a player sent off and another man coming on, they are still going to do it.
I applaud the work that has gone into it and any rule that is trying to improve our game, you have to consider it and look at it, but it is my opinion that there is too much emphasis being placed on this rule, there have been a number of other rules that will help the game that has come out of it. I think it would have been a much greater advantage to the game if the 30 metre penalty rule would have been endorsed rather than the black card. I don’t think it is going to change our game.
? Ryan McCluskey
I think it will make the referees job a lot harder now. Referees have been criticised for a lack of consistency and all this is going to do is add to their growing demands which is unfair on them.
It has been brought in now so players are going to have to try and adapt to it but I think that teams are going to use the black card system and it could lead to games becoming even more cynical, the very thing it is trying to stamp out.
I would also hope that it is going to be applied consistently. You often see forwards stopping defenders getting forward, and there always seems to be a more lenient approach to forwards, but I would like to think that it will penalise them too.
Personally, I don’t feel it is going to add to our game and there were other changes that they could have made which would.
? Martin Higgins
There is a school of thought that it is going to be more work referees but in time it could reduce the work load if players and team managers buy into it. It is a positive step and while there will be teething problems with it, there is plenty of time for people to get used to it. I have seen enough of rugby tackles and especially body collisions to know there is nothing manly about them.
The principle of what the FRC are trying to do with the black card is 100 per cent correct and it must also be remembered that there has never been as big a consultation process with the general public as to ways which the game can be improved. The group looked to gather as wide a range of views as possible and they have used the responses they got back to form the basis of these changes.
There is one change though that didn’t get passed that I would like to have seen come in. I was disappointed that the 30 metre advantage rule for a player who gets in the way of an opponent taking a free was not passed, I think it would have been beneficial to the game.