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Referees can be decisive, insists McGee

By Declan Bogue

As seismic a shift as it was, Chairman of the Football Review Committee Eugene McGee claims that the furore against the passing of the black card rule at Congress will die down in time.

The black card is seen as the Panacea for cynical fouling, with rugby tackling, trips and body-checking all punishable by enforced substitution for the first three perpetrators. Thereafter, teams will lose players for further offences.

"They are not massive changes, most of them are there already. It's the novelty of the black card," explained McGee.

"But I think it will set a template for the future. For instance, the 30 metre thing failed but in a year or two people might change their mind. And I think referees will referee with more decisiveness now because they will have confidence and self-belief."

He continued: "They will be rid of the burden of having to use the second yellow card, which they are all reluctant to do. There will be no black cards this time next year because the managers will tell players 'you can't do it.'"

Referring to the video presentation of the type of fouls that the black card is intended to outlaw, McGee explained: "What you saw on the television there, I mean, how could a manager look at those and not reprimand that player individually, in the dressing room or the next day and say look, this is stupid."

When it becomes law he expects there to be further controversy but addressed that with, "There will be all hell to pay in January and February I suppose but it doesn't matter, it's a fait accompli. Not like previous years when we experimented; the experimenting is done. It takes two-thirds to change it. It's not going to happen."

During the debate, GAA President Liam O'Neill actually had to encourage delegates that wished to convey the feelings of those against motion four, explaining afterwards: "I wanted to make sure we got a balance, I think it's important as a Chairperson that you get a balance.

"I was a little surprised that the majority of speakers were in favour, there were some very impassioned addresses made. People really cared about it, that came across. I'd say the debate on the day was an important factor in the vote that was achieved."

O'Neill also revealed that a second set of proposals yet to be unveiled by the Football Review Committee will be mothballed, saying,:"There is no major rush on it."

A motion appealing for additional sponsorship on team jerseys enjoyed a healthy margin, but requires further clarification, commented Director-General Paraic Duffy: "It will have to be defined by Central Council. It was deliberately left that way – there are various issues, are you talking about the sleeves or are you talking about the back of the jersey?"

He also allayed fears that current replica jerseys could be rendered out of date, stating: "I don't look at that changing again until next year because counties have jerseys in the market place."

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