Ulster managers have warmly welcomed the plan to introduce a new software system that will enable GAA chiefs to keep track of repeat yellow card offenders.
The Championship season to date has been blighted by an increase in cynical fouling, particularly in the closing stages of games as teams seek to protect leads.
Referees have also come under fire for a perceived failure to add on time lost when the ball is ‘killed’ or players deliberately employ delaying tactics, such as obstructing the taking of quick free-kicks.
The new software will make it much easier to record yellow cards issued from game to game, thus helping to highlight the persistent offenders.
A number of Ulster team bosses including James McCartan (Down), John Brennan (Derry) and Liam Bradley (Antrim) and the recently departed Monaghan manager Eamon McEneaney have drawn attention to the malaise of cynical fouling this year and it would appear that the plea for action has not fallen on deaf ears.
Referees will input the relevant information and the software will allow the Central Competitions Control Committee to detect repeat offenders.
Considerable anger has been generated from time to time during the Championship when one player might be shown a second yellow card for a relatively innocuous offence while others are seen to get away with repeated fouling, especially in the latter stages of matches.
The foul count in quite a number of games has been inordinately high and in some cases the side guilty of the most transgressions actually proved the winners — another element that has fuelled an increasingly impassioned debate.
Winning sides too have so far this season often picked up more yellow cards than losing teams thus lending weight to the theory that fouling pays dividends at the end of the day.
The new Football Review Committee is also expected to look closely at instances of cynical fouling with a view to recommending penalties that might be introduced further along the line.
GAA President Liam O’Neill is known to be keen to see cynical fouling eradicated as much as possible while Fergal McGill, the Croke Park games administrator and player welfare officer, suggests that the new software will be available “in the foreseeable future”.
McGill confirms that GAA chiefs have been concerned about cynical fouling for some time and the impact it is having on the presentation of games.
“There is an issue that needs to be addressed here and I think that the wheels are in motion now,” says McGill.