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O'Rourke: Players are exposing black card laws with 'bear-hug'

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Louth manager Aidan O'Rourke. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Louth manager Aidan O'Rourke. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Louth manager Aidan O'Rourke. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

LOUTH boss Aidan O'Rourke has claimed that players are being coached to 'bear-hug' opposition ball-winners, highlighting what he deems a significant blind spot in football's new black card law.

O'Rourke, in his second season in charge of the Wee County, also insisted that his midfielder Paddy Keenan was "cynically fouled every time he got possession" in Parnell Park on Wednesday night during his team's 2-6 to 0-8 defeat by All-Ireland champions Dublin, Louth's second successive defeat in the O'Byrne Cup.

"To be honest, my most annoying part of the game regarding the official (ref Fergal Kelly, Longford) was that Paddy Keenan was cynically fouled every time he got possession," said the Armagh native, an All-Ireland winner in 2002.

"But he wasn't brought to the ground, therefore it wasn't a black card.

"That completely defeats the purpose of addressing cynical fouling. That is the most cynical foul that there is; a good player winning the ball. He's trying to break out of the middle third and he's bear-hugged. Okay, it's a free-kick but then nothing happens (from the free) so what's the point of trying to address cynical play?"

"If you're strong enough to bear-hug a player and not let him get to the ground then you don't get a black card and that is being coached at the minute, I know well it is," he added.

WELL INTENTIONED

"The black card is well-intentioned and the origins of it, probably well-intentioned. But the solution they've come up with is not a solution, if you ask me.

"The same thing happens now as happened last year; he gets a free and the tackler gets a talking to, but that's where we are. There has to be a solution that deals with that part of the game."

A staunch and at times vocal opponent of the black card (he branded the rule's inception a "Victory for the meddlers & little to be ats who never coach" on Twitter) O'Rourke insisted that his major concern, however, was the differing standards being applied by referees.

"There is a situation where we'll see what the referee is like for the first 10 or 12 minutes and then we'll go from there," he said.

"At the minute, referees are different every game we play, there's no consistency ... I'd love to get to the situation where we can just ignore the officials and let them do what they're going to do.

"But it's so up and down and so different every week that, at the minute, we can't do that.

"Everybody is really waiting to take their lead from officials when it gets consistent, but it's not there at the minute."

PRAISED

For his part, Jim Gavin said he does not share O'Rourke's concerns over the consistency of application and praised both Fergal Kelly and David Goldrick – the officials who presided over Dublin's first two matches under the black card – for their performances.

"The rules says a deliberate trip, pull or block or verbal abuse to an opponent, team-mate or referee (are all punishable by a black card). And I think we all want to see that eradicated from the game," said the Dublin manager, who saw Darragh Nelson black-carded in the second half of the Louth match, his team's first since its arrival.

"There were some good hard tackles going in... and he gave out one black card for what he deemed a deliberate pull back.

"That's what the rule says. If you deliberately pull down an opponent, you get the black card. So we have no issue with that."


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