GAA black card here for the long run, says Paraic Duffy
DIRECTOR General Paraic Duffy makes it clear in his annual report which has just been released that there will be no about-turn on the black card disciplinary measure now that the Allianz Football League is about to commence on Saturday week.
Duffy, who concedes that there will be "an inevitable clamour" for a re-think on the measure, insists that teams who play football in the correct spirit will have nothing to fear from its implementation in the league when the intensity and pace of matches are expected to hot up considerably.
And while he admits, too, that referees will be under added pressure, Duffy suggests that the black card will only begin to achieve its full potential in the league.
"Much obviously will depend on how coaches want the game to be played," states Duffy.
"There will be the inevitable clamour for an about-turn when players receive black cards in the early weeks of the league but let one thing be clear – there can be no turning back."
Duffy remains convinced that there are too many fouls in most matches at all levels and believes that that the GAA is still some way from achieving an agreed interpretation of what constitutes a legitimate tackle.
"There needs to be a penalty for players who routinely draw yellow cards in almost every game," insists Duffy.
Yet he adheres to the belief that gaelic football "still provides many good and even excellent contests."
But he qualifies this by adding: "The continuing challenge for rule-makers is ensuring that football is made enjoyable both to play and to watch, and that it is a sport in which the most skilful players prosper."
And the Director General is equally forthright in taking to task those who would decry the value of the provincial football and hurling championships and would prefer to see instead an open All-Ireland draw in both sports.
"One is led to wonder if these critics pay any attention at all to the evidence of the value placed by teams on provincial titles," states Duffy.
"It would have been a foolhardy pundit who suggested to a Limerick player on the evening of July 14 last that the Munster Hurling Championship should be done away with.
"And it would have been downright reckless to tell a Monaghan supporter last summer that winning an Ulster Football Championship didn't count for much."
Duffy stresses that while a number of teams can have a reasonable chance of winning a provincial title, not too many can entertain viable ambitions of winning All-Ireland crowns.
This point has been emphasised, too, by Ulster Council officials in the recent past as an unofficial lobby for an open All-Ireland draw has continued in tandem with a call for a 'Champions League' Championship format.
Ulster Council Director Danny Murphy in particular has been very much to the fore in underpinning the value of the provincial football championship with last year's competition proving one of the most successful for many seasons.