Consistency key for black card -- Lyng
Model ace believes bigger games real test for new system
HE was the first man in his own county to get a black card last week and Ciaran Lyng reckons the new disciplinary initiative will work, with one proviso.
"Referees have got to be consistent with them," the Wexford forward said. "I got one last weekend because I set up a screen for Kevin O'Grady to run around, I probably shouldn't have stood in front of the corner-back and blocked him, so that's what I got it for, which was fair enough.
"But one of our players told me that he did the exact same thing at the other end of the pitch and was just called aside and warned about it."
It seemed ironic that it was a forward who picked up Wexford's first black card as many believe that it is attackers who will benefit most from the latest effort to root out cynical fouls from Gaelic football.
But Lyng was happy to take responsibility for his actions and is hopeful that the new initiative will work and improve the game.
"Already you can see those situations where a fella has given off a ball and is immediately bracing himself for the impact of a late challenge and it isn't coming, so that's one good thing," he noted.
"But it is very, very early yet to be judging it. It's not until some really competitive games come around that we'll see how consistently it is called, so we'll have to wait and see."
Given the tame way they bowed out to them in the qualifiers last summer, Aidan O'Brien's side got their season off to a promising start by beating arch-rivals Laois in the O'Byrne Cup last Sunday.
However, that result was horribly undone by their midweek loss to UCD when they hit just 3-3, with 3-2 from Lyng's boot.
"Conditions were terrible alright, but we had no excuses because it was exactly the same for UCD and you're not going to win a game with just two points from play," he said.
With their group balanced evenly with each team on two points, qualification for the semi-finals now hangs on tomorrow's result in Tullamore against Offaly, who gave Laois a right rattle midweek.
But Lyng believes that failing to qualify will not be a major set-back for O'Brien's side.
"At this time of the year, you're looking for performances really, the results aren't that important," he said.
Yet, Wexford would surely benefit from as many games as they can get right now, given their transitional nature and the number of pivotal players they have lost since last summer.
Veteran goalkeeper Anthony Masterson has not yet returned due to personal commitments, long-time centre-back stalwart David Murphy and playmaker Redmond Barry have retired, Aindreas Doyle is gone to Dubai and dual star Lee Chin has committed solely to the county hurlers.
"Between retirements and injuries there's a few big gaps alright, but that's probably a good thing," Lyng continued.
"A lot of our U-21 team that won Leinster (in 2011) still haven't quite made the breakthrough. I don't know was it that they were a better team than individuals at the time, but there's a load of them who needed some time to develop and I really feel they're ready to step up to the mark now."
The county's first-time Leinster U-21 winners included Michael Furlong, who established himself at corner-back last year and showed his versatility by playing at centre-forward last week.
But Lyng believes that players like James Breen and Kevin O'Grady are really ready to step up to the senior mark now and Cloughbawn's Colm Kehoe is another earmarked for a breakthrough.
The selection of regular forward Shane Roche as one of their two new goalkeeping options is Wexford's early season talking point, but Lyng says it hasn't come completely out of the blue.
"It's a ballsy move to undertake alright, but Shane has embraced it. He was a very sought-after underage goalkeeper and played there for the Irish U-16 (soccer) team," he explained.
"He's always been pulling on the gloves before training and we would all have a lash at trying to put a goal past him, so it's no real surprise to us to see him stepping into that role now."