Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

You can't compare foul play to cancer

National Referees' Committee chairman Pat McEnaney has been tasked with overseeing the implementation of the black card disciplinary process.

But although the former top whistler acknowledges that this will initially be a difficult task, he believes that the cynical fouling within the sport which led to the momentous decision taken at Congress has been over-hyped.

And McEnaney takes particular exception to the fact that a number of high-profile officials, commentators and journalists have kept describing this form of fouling as a 'cancer' within the sport.

As one who could be deemed guilty of this, I hold my hands up – McEnaney is actually introducing a dose of reality into what has been become a sporting paranoia of late.

"Sure, systematic fouling is going on in our games and I am delighted that referees have now been given the tools with which to try and deal with the problem," states McEnaney. "But to equate the problems we have in applying the playing rules with a life-threatening illness such as cancer is carrying this much too far."

McEnaney's observations have struck a chord within the Association, particularly as many members' families have been touched by cancer and they know the grief and heartache that this dreaded disease can cause.

McEnaney only recently retired from his position as the country's leading referee and now in his new role as referees' body chairman he has pledged himself to "sanitize" gaelic football, as he puts it.

But he is anxious that matters should be kept in perspective.

"I know that many people within the Association feel very strongly about the cynical fouling and the rugby tackles that appear to be part and parcel of football now but let's keep a handle on things," urges McEnaney.

"We are talking about an amateur sport here that is played for fun. Cancer on the other hand is a word in the English language that generates real fear. It is something different altogether."

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