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New rules will help end cynical play says Pat McEnaney

By Donnchadh Boyle

Referees' chief Pat McEnaney believes the 'black card' will put "the onus on players" to maintain their discipline ahead of its introduction on January 1.

The new rules, along with the introduction of mandatory gumshields, will see football undergoing its most significant change in years, with McEnaney insisting the regulations will improve football as a spectacle by helping to remove cyncial play.

"It is not the great number (of cynical fouls), it's that they are not good for our game," said the Monaghan man.

"They are deliberate and we want to eradicate them. I don't believe it is going to cause us major concern, I think it is going to work pretty well.

"It is the player that is in control here – no player wants to get substituted. Nobody wants to come off the field. People talk about rotating players, but you also hear players regularly saying: 'I don't mind rotation as long as it is not me that's being rotated.' So, the onus is on the player."

The GAA are embarking on an ambitious education programme aimed at bringing the country's referees up to speed on the new regulations.

Croke Park have provided online learning aids as well as an in-person course which will be delivered in each of the 32 counties between now and Christmas by a championship panel referee and a senior administrator .

No referees will be allowed to take charge of a game until they have completed the course.

The club game will not be exempt from the new regulations but, while Croke Park will dish out a one-game suspension for players who pick up three black cards in a season, county boards will not be asked to apply a similar sanction in a bid to reduce the amount of administration involved.

McEnaney also hopes to roll out the country's top officials for the pre-season competitions.

Traditionally a proving ground for up-and-coming refs, experienced whistlers are likely to be deployed in January to help ensure a smooth transition.

"That is one of the things we will push for, particularly in the O'Byrne Cup, McKenna Cup competitions – that (championship referees) will kick the season off, because there will be a number of club referees attending those games," he said.

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