Officials on alert after black-card error leads to replay award
THE first major error by a referee in relation to the new black-card rule has resulted in a replay ruling that will have major ramifications across the GAA.
The blunder occurred in a post-primary school football clash in Munster and the fact that it has been formally acknowledged leaves a lot of red faces, given the amount of in-service education that referees received on the new rules, and the assurances the GAA gave that match officials would be able to cope with them.
The decision to award a team a replay because the referee incorrectly applied the black-card rule sets a huge precedent which will apply to all levels of the game and put all match officials on high alert at the start of the Allianz National Football Leagues this weekend.
Cork school Colaiste Chriost Ri lodged an objection to the result of their Munster Schools SFC 'A' (Corn Ui Mhuiri) quarter-final against Kerry side Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibne on the basis that referee Kevin Walsh made a major black-card error.
The opposition captain got a yellow card and subsequently a black. Under the new rule, yellow-plus-black means that a player cannot be replaced, but the referee allowed the Kerry school to replace the midfielder.
Munster schools' Central Competition Controls Committee heard the case on Wednesday, but did not release their decision until last night.
There was speculation that the usual 'referee is always right' principle would be applied, but the fact that a replay was ordered indicates that errors in black-card use will be grounds for a replay in future.
In his match report the referee acknowledged that he erred in not producing a red card, but he did not refer to the substitution issue.
Chriost Ri's manager Aidan Moynihan tried to point out the error when it occurred, but the referee waved him away.
The Cork school was leading 1-5 to 0-5 at the time with a quarter of the game remaining, but eventually lost (1-6 to 0-12) after extra-time.
Moynihan said last night they were just pleased that the error had been acknowledged and fair play had applied.
"This ruling obviously has far-reaching ramifications for the GAA, but we are just glad that we got justice for our players and that this game will be settled on the field of play again," he said. "If we are beaten fairly on the pitch that will not be an issue."
Moynihan added: "If the referee had listened a bit more this could all have been avoided.
"The GAA has this 'Give Respect-Get Respect' campaign for referees, but that should be a two-way process."
It is understood that the referee's match report did not refer to Chriost Ri's attempted intervention when the error occurred.
No date has yet been set for the replay because both parties have three days in which to lodge an appeal.