Is black card dying a death before our eyes?
Published 23/05/2015 | 02:30
A suspicion is surely growing that Gaelic football's black card has begun dying a death before our eyes.
The reluctance of referees to deploy what was so widely celebrated as an antidote to cynical play suggests one of two things: they regard it as either (a) an unwelcome complication to the job they do or (b) are inclined to simply forget its presence in their pocket.
In Carrick-on-Shannon last Sunday, this column's arithmetic suggested that referee Anthony Nolan had Galway down for 42 fouls against Leitrim, 29 in the second half alone. The vast majority were called against Galway attackers baulking Leitrim defenders as they carried the ball upfield.
It looked like a deliberate strategy of stopping the Leitrim attacks at source (perhaps with a Connacht semi-final against Mayo in mind), yet Nolan did not issue a single black card.
In Ballybofey, where scruple was largely left in the dressing-room, the first black card was issued with three minutes of normal time remaining. Could this have anything to do with the growing numbers of black cards being rescinded of late under appeal to the Central Hearings Committee?
Are referees simply weary of being undermined?