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Joe Kernan: Problems on the cards if referees are asked to go black

The Football Review Committee’s proposal to have black cards introduced in addition to the current yellow and red sanctions in order to help combat the scourge of cynical fouling in gaelic football may in one sense be laudable, but it is flawed nonetheless.

Obviously FRC chairman Eugene McGee and his colleagues have put a lot of thought and effort into the drafting of their rather convoluted proposal, but I still believe that if adopted at Congress in Derry then it will put even more pressure on referees.

While the top tier of whistlers will perhaps be capable of overcoming the complexities involved in what would be a radical change in the disciplinary mechanism, there are scores of other referees at different levels who might struggle to come to terms with the changes.

It is difficult to see how a young, rather inexperienced referee might be able to cope and he would also be tasked with ensuring that no team would be allowed to bring on more than six substitutes — another proposed rule change — and this indeed could prove a burden on its own in the cut and thrust of a competitive contest.

I believe that if the existing sanctions are properly employed then there should be no reason to bring in further punitive action.

After all, referees have the assistance of their linesmen and umpires — or at least they are supposed to have — and this being the case, it should be possible to spot and punish any instances of cynical fouling.

The introduction of black cards would only complicate manners and make the referee’s job even more unwieldy.

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A number of high-profile figures within the GAA have already expressed their opposition to the Football Review Committee’s proposal and I must say that I am in agreement with them.

Nonetheless, assuming that the matter goes before Congress, I think we can steel ourselves for what might prove to be a protracted debate on what is a thorny issue.

There is no guarantee that the introduction of black cards will help to further sanitise gaelic football although the FRC seems to think that it is providing a panacea for at least some of the ills that are afflicting the game right now.

I don’t see it that way and indeed I think that the GAA should step back from any further course of action.

I think that the rules governing discipline on the field of play as they stand are adequate — it is the inconsistent manner in which they are applied, or not applied as the case may be, that is the real problem.

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