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Black Death or a black farce?

WHEN the black card was first ushered in, it was likened by some strident opponents to the Black Death - a bubonic plague on the 'art' of old-school defending. Now, some seven months on, we are wondering has the so-called plague been eradicated by ... well, the penicillin of the yellow peril cop-out?

There have been recent signs - perhaps sparked by the rescinding of three black cards on the one night earlier this month - that referees are thinking twice before they brandish a black card. Or rather, they are flashing yellow instead.

Now, we accept that referees must be convinced that the relevant offence was deliberate - be it a drag-down, trip, or block. But how Derry whistler Barry Cassidy deemed that Brian Fox's entry for Most Blatant Black Card of 2014 (the Tipp man grabbing Galway's James Kavanagh around the neck before flinging him to the ground, as he headed for goal) was merely worthy of a yellow ... well, we were gobsmacked when watching the incident live on Sky Sports and every bit as mystified as Ciarán Whelan and Tomás Ó Sé when the duo discussed it on The Sunday Game the following night.

Just as well that Fox's subsequent goal for Tipp didn't affect the outcome. But that's missing the point. What happens if/when something similar happens in Croker over the next month and the perpetrator goes on to score a goal that really does matter?

Forget the plague. Expect Armageddon.

FOUR footballers turned up in Croke Park yesterday for a press event to publicise next Saturday's two football qualifiers at HQ.

One of the four - Kevin Dyas - made himself available for photos but not for interview. Is this more of Armagh's daft campaign against their media detractors, or mere publicity-shyness? Either way, it's an embarrassing own-goal for Croker.