We must listen to refs on black card – Gavin
IT MAY be struggling to get through, but Dublin football manager Jim Gavin made a last-ditch plea for Congress delegates to support the introduction of the new black-card rule.
The Blues boss, whose side are already well positioned for a Division 1 semi-final ahead of tonight's penultimate round against Down, says they should be guided especially by the views of the 'Men in Black'.
And even if the proposal which has so divided opinion is defeated, Gavin reckons the Football Review Committee's (FRC) efforts to try to cut out cynical fouling will still have a positive residual effect on the game.
"What was most surprising is that the National Referees Committee, through chairman Pat McEnaney, came out strongly in favour of all the FRC proposals," Gavin noted.
"They're the guys who represent the referees, who officiate the rules of the game. They're seeing, at close-hand, what happens on the pitch.
"They probably have the best panoramic view of what goes on in the game, and if they're saying this is an issue, then obviously it is an issue," he stressed.
"Broadly speaking the FRC rules are designed for one thing – respect. Bringing the ball forward (a suggested 30 metres) would be good for that too, but defining the tackle would help the referee an awful lot in their work," he added.
Yet Gavin also believes that, even if the black-card proposal is defeated, "you'll probably see them (referees) coming down heavily on any form of illegal, or AFL-style, tackle, which have been there for many years."
He has already made no secret of his belief that the best way to curb cynicism would be a sin-bin – a solution previously tried but rejected. His Dublin side's three-game unbeaten run was ended by Tyrone last week by just a point.
The attacking nature of their play has already received rave reviews but he insisted they are still far from the finished article. Gavin felt Dublin failed to make enough of their goal-scoring chances in that 0-18 to 1-14 loss to Tyrone.
They were also a little loose defensively, conceding 0-13 from play, not helped by the absence of Rory O'Carroll, who won't be back for another three weeks after minor ankle surgery.
The Dubs also crucially squandered three '45s' last week but the return of captain Stephen Cluxton, who missed the last two games due to their rotating goalkeeper policy, should fix that.
Gavin expects the Ballymun Kickhams contingent to rejoin the squad in time for their interesting final-round trip to Donegal.
Neither Bernard Brogan nor Paul Flynn have been named to start tonight. Brogan missed last week's game with Tyrone with a hip injury and Flynn was injured during it.
Jonny Cooper comes in at full-back to free Ger Brennan to his usual centre-back role, which releases Cian O'Sullivan back to partner Denis Bastick in midfield and Nicky Devereux comes in at wing-back.
Craig Dias and Bryan Cullen replace the injured Flynn and Ciaran Kilkenny on the '45' and Paul Mannion replaces Philly Ryan at corner-forward.
TEAM IN FACTFILE