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Creator of controversial black card says it's time to review rule

By Declan Bogue

Published 04/10/2016

Black day: Maurice Deegan was a busy man at Croke Park on Saturday showing Mayo keeper Robert Hennelly, his team-mate Lee Keegan and Dublin’s Jonny Cooper black cards
Black day: Maurice Deegan was a busy man at Croke Park on Saturday showing Mayo keeper Robert Hennelly, his team-mate Lee Keegan and Dublin’s Jonny Cooper black cards

The architect of the GAA's black card has stated it is time for a review of the controversial rule.

Eugene McGee acted as chairman of the Football Review Committee that got the law passed at Congress in Derry in 2013. It was his belief that its' effectiveness and suitability for purpose would be reviewed after the first three seasons, which would be imminent after Saturday's All-Ireland football final replay.

"I think there was an understanding, at least, that after three Championship seasons it would be worth having a look at," the former Offaly All-Ireland winning manager told The Belfast Telegraph.

"We had an understanding at the time of the committee that, at the end of three years, the GAA would have a review of the black card and see how it was working."

If anything, McGee believes the black card is not enforced rigorously enough.

"One of the things is you can get a black card for sledging a player or sledging a referee. It hasn't been enforced once, as far as I can recall. If it was applied a few times in matches, that would finish all sledging," he blasted.

Any possible review would be better served without McGee on the panel, he insists.

"I wouldn't object to it, but I personally would think it might be better to have people who have not been on the (FRC) committee," he said.

"If you have all the statistics in front of you, with the Director-General of the GAA or somebody on his behalf, and two of the top referees. If they sat down and had a private conversation for a few hours, that would be interesting."

James McCarthy expressed his anger at his black card in the drawn replay, stating: "I think it's an awful thing, really. Surely there is a better way of dealing with it, be it a sin bin or something. Your day being ended after 20 minutes in an All-Ireland final is a disgrace, to be honest."

His manager Jim Gavin echoed his call for a sin-bin: "The black card itself is harsh in that a player, in any game, can be sent off for that type of infringement. It is time to have another look at the sin-bin. I would advocate that."

However, while McGee's group teased out the idea, they relented because of potential difficulties.

He reasoned: "If you are playing a junior league match in rural Ireland in the month of February, and it is raining or snowing. You might get a neutral referee if you are lucky enough. You will not get another neutral official.

"So, you want one or two people, or even three or four people to get sinbinned. So who is going to police that? Who is going to monitor this fella who has got sin binned? It's purely the practicality of that for us.

"I was adamant all along that it was not a rule just for county players.

"There is no point saying it can be done in Croke Park. Of course it can be done in Croke Park with video coverage and everything. But what happens when you are playing in the middle of January and February when it is snowing?"

Belfast Telegraph

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