Friday 9 December 2016

The controversial black card is going nowhere for now

Tom Rooney

Published 13/10/2016 | 02:30

Lee Keegan of Mayo, right, is shown a black card by referee Maurice Deegan during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park. His tackle was a split second decision and some question if it merited the card. If he had more time to think would he do it again? Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Lee Keegan of Mayo, right, is shown a black card by referee Maurice Deegan during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final Replay match between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park. His tackle was a split second decision and some question if it merited the card. If he had more time to think would he do it again? Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghaíl . Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghaíl has stressed that the controversial black card will not be subject to alteration between now and the 2020 Congress.

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Since its introduction in 2013, the black card has been among the most polarising issues in Gaelic football, particularly in the wake of the recent All-Ireland SFC final and replay between Dublin and Mayo.

Criticisms of the black card have centred on consistency of application by referees and the ambiguity regarding which offences warrant its use.

However, Ó Fearghaíl said it would not be done away any time soon.

"With regards to the abolition of the black card - no; 2020 is the next Congress that we have when we change playing rules."

Ó Fearghaíl conceded that the implementation of the black card was not without fault but that any criticism was simply part of the larger discourse on GAA.

"In some quarters there's a backlash against it but you get that in everything in the GAA," he said. "The black card is there and a part of our rules, and I don't see it being dispensed of because of one or two incidents, or even more incidents.

"There is an onus on us to make sure that whatever rules we have are well implemented. I accept that some of the commentary with the black card is fair, and that we have to make sure that it is properly implemented. There have been some calls that were a little dubious, and we need to improve that."

Ó Fearghaíl said it was incumbent on the GAA not to dispose of rules prematurely and that the Referees' Association were working to refine the use of the black card.

"The next Congress when we will look at playing rules is 2020," he continued. "That was a very a strong desire within the GAA, that we wouldn't just introduce a playing rule, and then we don't like it and change it.

"We have to improve how we use the black card, and the Referees' Association have admitted that themselves and they are improving their education around the black card."

Ó Fearghaíl said that there is data to support the argument that the game has improved as a spectacle since the introduction of the black card.

"We've now completed three years with the black card. In that period, from one of the little reviews I'm aware of, our scoring has improved; there has been more goals in that three year period than in the previous one, there has been more points and less frees."

There have been suggestions that the introduction of a television match official (TMO) would greatly aid referees, as has been the case with rugby, but Ó Fearghaíl remained sceptical.

"I certainly haven't seen anything that would convince me that the TMO would add to anything," he said.

Irish Independent

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