Saturday 21 April 2018

McManus: Black cards have changed nothing

Referee Eamonn O'Grady shows a black card
Referee Eamonn O'Grady shows a black card
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

STATISTICS may indicate that the introduction of black cards has helped make life a bit easier for attackers, but Monaghan ace Conor McManus doesn't agree with that theory.

It was McManus who was dragged down by Sean Cavanagh's infamous rugby-tackle last summer, an incident that caused TV analyst Joe Brolly to blow his top and one which sounded the death knell for cynical tackling.

The GAA released statistics last week that showed that yellow cards were halved and scoring rates increased by 10pc in this year's league, both attributed to the new black-card rule.

But McManus said: "To be honest I haven't found a real major difference.

"At the start (of the year) there was all this talk about the black card and maybe defenders were afraid of getting put off early but, as the league went on, they became less relevant and teams went out and played as they would normally."

The Clontibret All Star said the real test of the initiative will only come in this summer's championship and the upcoming league finals, where his side face Donegal in the Division 2 decider.

"I don't think I'm getting any more freedom than I was last year. If anything it seems to be even harder to get away from defenders," he said.

He feels black cards still won't deter those who feel an illegal intervention needs to be made in the late stages of a big game this summer.

"If it's early on in the game, you are not going to want to miss 65 minutes of a championship quarter-final or semi-final but, if it's late on, in the last five minutes or so, he'll probably take his black card and go on ahead.

"You'll do whatever you have to do to win. If there is way around it I'm sure managers and players will find it."

McManus also said some players have been unfortunate under the new rule, citing Richie Feeney's black card on St Patrick's Day.

"Technically I suppose it was a black card but five minutes into an All-Ireland club final for something fairly innocuous was harsh enough," he said.

Irish Independent

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