Sunday 21 December 2014

Loophole in 'black card' rule provides licence to dive

Diarmuid Lyng

Published 05/03/2014 | 02:30

25 August 2013; Andy Moran, Mayo. GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final, Mayo v Tyrone, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Andy Moran, Mayo

'Technically he got the decision correct' was Eugene McGee's reading on the show of referee Ciaran Brannigan's decision to only tick Andy Moran's most cynical of fouls against Kerry on Sunday. The usual caveat of the referee's discretion was mentioned in his next breath.

There was no doubt as to the cynicism of the foul. Daithi Casey was pumping through the heart of the Mayo defence when Moran came in from the back and managed to grab his arm and give him the pull he needed to stop play or the player, and he was ready for his punishment. But Moran hasn't studied the rule book with the same zeal as Brannigan.

Players don't really do that. It's a process of discovery. You feel your way through, push the boundaries as far as you can. Like a toddler tests its parents. How far can I take it? What can I get away it? And then BANG, hardwired into muscle memory. 'The line'.

Parents are well aware that too much encroachment stifles a child's freedom, their willingness to creatively discover themselves and their capabilities, and so they allow them to push. And so we have the phrase 'referee's discretion'. How far will you let players push while maintaining the standards of the game? That line is different in all referees and this frustrates players and supporters alike.

So we completely encourage discretion, yet make no allowances for what that means. There will be inconsistencies. Is there any wonder referees retreat to the safe haven of the rule book? Brannigan has exposed a loophole in the black card system due to his thorough knowledge of the rules. Andy Moran 'pulled' his marker. He didn't pull him DOWN.

Now we know as GAA folk that diving is only in soccer. It's beneath us.

Well that theory, which I don't buy anyway, is about to be tested to its limits if the wording of the rule isn't changed to include any type of cynical drag or pull. Because if you go down, he goes off. Starting players are better than subs. That increases our chances of winning. The end justifies the means.

Either through discretion or a tweak in the wording, this must be addressed in its infancy.

Irish Independent

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