Black card offences remain a mystery of interpretation
Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30
It's early days in the new season but already the signs are not good for the consistent implementation of the black card rule.
Now in its third season, you would have expected a high degree of uniformity but that is not the case. In fact, it's often impossible to predict whether a referee will go for black or yellow when he begins his paperwork with a player after an offence that merits more than just a free.
There appeared to be a marked reluctance to use the black card, unless as a very last resort, in the pre-season games I covered, even when they were clearly merited.
Was it a case of: "It's only warm-up stuff in January, sure where's the point in sending him off?" It shouldn't have been.
That changed once the Allianz League started with nine yellow cards issues on opening weekend, followed by 15 in the second round.
Those included Dublin's Philly McMahon, who was sent off by Padraig Hughes after just three minutes against Mayo. Other referees tend to opt for the yellow card option that early in game, which is wrong.
Three black cards were shown in last weekend's All-Ireland club semi-finals, but it could easily have been higher, especially late on when Castlebar were trying to prevent Crossmaglen from working the ball out from their own goal area.
Adding another card was always going to add to the referee's workload but, by now, the difference between black and yellow card offences should be clear to everyone. It's not, which adds to on- and off-field frustration.