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Canavan finds it card to take

By Declan Bogue

He may have been a forward who was on the wrong end of his share of crude and agricultural tackles in his time, but Fermanagh manager Peter Canavan clearly had a bit to get off his chest when questioned about the passing of Motion Four at Saturday's GAA Congress.

Motion Four, which will forever be known as the 'black card' rule, seeks to punish anyone found guilty of a certain type of foul (tripping, pulling opponent back, body-checking) to be replaced on the field by a substitute for the first three offences, and thereafter teams will lose players for further infractions.

However, Canavan feels there are still loopholes that teams can exploit and the 'black card' falls short of addressing other areas of concern in the game.

"I don't think it's a move in the right direction at all and I can't believe the hype that surrounded it and the pleas that surrounded getting this black card rule through," he said after his team moved back to the top of division three on Sunday by beating Sligo in Brewster Park.

He continued: "I think the referees are under enough pressure without putting them under more.

"The problem will remain in that referees view it differently; what's a black card and what's not? No different than a yellow card and a red. I would have thought there were enough cards in the game.

"I am disappointed and I don't think it is going to add to our game as much as these experts believe that it will."

While the motion received considerable support within the media, there was also a level of opposition that was granted a platform.

Ultimately it was felt that the debate at Congress, with 13 speaking in favour of the motion and only two against, along with a telling contribution from Pat McEnaney, Chairman of the National Referee's Committee in which he asked delegates to, "give him the tools" to do something about cynical fouling, swung the vote.

The measures that will be introduced from January 1, 2014 did not adequately address that nature of fouling, maintained Canavan.

"Teams are still going to prevent other teams from attacking, or running down the last five minutes. They are still going to pull players down if it means them getting sent off and another man coming on; they are still going to do it.

"I applaud the work that has gone into it and any rule that is trying to improve our game you have to sit down and look at it. It is my opinion that there has been too much emphasis placed on this rule."

Referring to Motion 16 concerning bringing the ball forward 30 metres rather than the current 13m in the event of teams obstructing a free-kick, Canavan continued: "There are a number of other rules that will help the game and have come out of it. I think it would have been a greater advantage to the game if the 30-metre penalty had been endorsed rather than the black card."

Motion 16 received a majority vote of 54% but not enough to make the two-thirds share required to affect change.

Should Meath lose to Antrim this weekend, Fermanagh will be all but up. The likelihood is though that the fate of the Erne men will be decided by their away trip to face Meath in Pairc Tailteann in Navan on the last day of the regulation league programme. "It's in our own hands," was Canavan's assessment.

"If you had told me at the start of the year we would have been going down to Meath looking a win to get promoted I would have took it. It's a great position for us to be in, we are playing against most people's favourites to get promoted; Meath and Monaghan were everyone's favourites.

"That's going to be a great test for our boys. They have nothing to fear, nothing to lose going down there and we can go down knowing that if we put in a good performance we will be playing Division Two football next year."

That, of course, would make back-to-back promotions for Fermanagh, surely bonus territory?

"It's bonus territory when you consider the amount of players we don't have," responds Canavan, referring to the loss of Ruairi Corrigan, Eoin Donnelly, Sean Quigley and James Sherry in recent weeks to broken bones.

"I would have been of the opinion we needed everyone and everything to go right for us to get promoted.

"But they have made serious improvement this team and to win that game in a comfortable manner without so many key players, I think is an endorsement of the work the rest of the lads have done and the shape they have got themselves in," he added.

Belfast Telegraph


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