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Why should the gravity of cynical fouling be any less diminished in hurling than it is in football?

Colm Keys


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Monaghan's Darren Hughes of Monaghan is issued a black card by referee David Gough for a foul on Peter Harte of Tyrone, right, during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 2 match in Castleblayney last Sunday. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Monaghan's Darren Hughes of Monaghan is issued a black card by referee David Gough for a foul on Peter Harte of Tyrone, right, during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 2 match in Castleblayney last Sunday. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

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Monaghan's Darren Hughes of Monaghan is issued a black card by referee David Gough for a foul on Peter Harte of Tyrone, right, during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 2 match in Castleblayney last Sunday. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

The effect of the 10-minute sin-bin in football wasn’t lost on the competing managers in Tralee on Saturday night when Kerry came from behind for a win that looked unlikely when Shane Walsh struck for a goal and a point inside a minute to steer the game in Galway's direction.

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While Galway's spurning of some great first-half goal chances was probably more influential in denying them the Division 1 points, Cillian McDaid's black card for dragging down Dara Moynihan was the spur that Kerry needed to go and chase the game.

By then Galway had used all five substitutes and a lot of energy in hauling in the home side and that sense of weariness was apparent when they had one less set of legs working for them to hold on their three-point lead.

Eventually, Kerry caught them with 1-1 of their own and with McDaid unable to get back on to the pitch because there was no break in play, those Kerry scores ensured that they maximised their brief numerical advantage.

Galway manager Pádraic Joyce had no complaints about the black card itself, just the manner of it. These things, he inferred, have to be punished in this way. It was a refreshingly honest acceptance from Joyce.

In Navan the following day, Donegal also hit Meath for 1-1 when the home side’s full-back Conor McGill was sitting it out for 10 minutes for dragging down Jamie Brennan.

That 1-1 didn't include the subsequent penalty for the offence which Michael Murphy scored. But again, the advantage lay with the team with the greater numbers.

In Castleblayney, the impact wasn't as great over the three black cards but for two, Monaghan's Niall Kearns and Tyrone's Mark Bradley, there was still a lift for the 15 men in each case, Tyrone clawing back two points when Kearns was off the field and Monaghan adding two when Bradley vacated between the 51st and 61st minute.

Monaghan did score their goal when Darren Hughes was of the field.

Mayo were left seething over Jordan Flynn's high challenge being punished by red by referee Barry Cassidy but in the current climate of clamping down on head-high challenges, Cassidy was always likely to flash that colour, irrespective of John Small's reaction.

It left Mayo with an uphill climb that ultimately got the better of them though it took time for Dublin to assert their authority.

The point is that the way the game is being played now, the vast majority of situations that present numerical disadvantage is being exploited and the 10-minute sin-bin, still in its infancy, is already proving quite a punitive measure, notwithstanding the capacity for teams to run down the clock while they are a player down.

The climate may make it a little easier for the Standing Committee on Playing Rules to pitch their case to add the five black card offences to hurling in the months ahead.

Tabled for the next Central Council meeting with the intention of putting it to Congress, it may take a future Special Congress in September to ventilate the argument properly.

Buoyed by their success in getting three rules approved for football, this committee has wasted no time in addressing cynicism in hurling which has had something of a growth spurt in the intervening years since 71 per cent of 2015 Congress delegates voted against adopting it for hurling.

Whether it has been palatable or not, anything they have done over the last two years has been evidence-based, GAA analyst Rob Carroll proving a statistical insight into trends and outcomes going back quite a number of years.

We can be sure that in tabling a motion, a spike in cynical fouling has been identified.

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Rory O'Connor of Wexford is fouled by Enda Morrissey of Kilkenny, which resulted in a Wexford penalty, during the Leinster SHC final at Croke Park in Dublin last June. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Rory O'Connor of Wexford is fouled by Enda Morrissey of Kilkenny, which resulted in a Wexford penalty, during the Leinster SHC final at Croke Park in Dublin last June. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

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Rory O'Connor of Wexford is fouled by Enda Morrissey of Kilkenny, which resulted in a Wexford penalty, during the Leinster SHC final at Croke Park in Dublin last June. Photo: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Inevitably there will be kickback from those involved in hurling itself, making the argument that no one from within the game is calling for this punishment.

But then hurling has always preferred light-touch regulation, vouching that the product is always good enough to forgive most misdemeanours.

John Kiely moved quickly on that after Limerick's league win over Galway, protesting that the game should be left alone. But just because an economy is fine and many are benefiting doesn't mean it is perfect.

There will always be the argument that hurling and Gaelic football are two different games and that somehow the contamination of cynicism in hurling has come from the breath of its football cousin.

True, they are different games but they are run by the same organisation and adhere to the same principles.

A deliberate hand-trip in hurling is no less an offence than it is football, nor is a deliberate body collide.

If anything, deliberately dragging down a goal-bound opponent is more prevalent in hurling than it is in football in the absence of a proper punishment.

Why should its gravity be any less diminished in one game than it is in the other?

The extent of the advantage that having an extra player for 10 minutes in a hurling match has yet to be fully assessed and that's why the proposal could well be kicked on or even road-tested in next year's league.

The sin-bin was trialled in last year's league when the impact could be properly taken on board.

Would it be easier, for instance, to pick off points from distance under less pressure during the 10 minutes in hurling?

In time, black card offences will blend with yellow card offences as the GAA moves towards a reclassification of foul play.

That concept might even outgrow a hurling sin-bin. But whatever happens, hurling can no longer expect immunity from cynicism.

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