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Refs expecting diving upsurge over black card

By Cliona Foley

Referees chief Pat McEnaney says he has prepared his officials to expect a lot more diving in the GAA in 2014 because of the new black card rule, and warned that they will be wise to players' theatrics.

One of the infringements that will earn a black card is if a player 'deliberately' takes down an opponent.

"It's one of the things that we've discussed – that players will simulate," said McEnaney.

"We've (already) seen it in our game; it's not a massive issue, but it is done. And players buying a free by holding the hand in...

"What I say to players is 'you pull a fella's jersey, you've taken the decision-making out of your hands as a player'. Maybe the lesson is: don't pull a fella's jersey."

Laois footballer Colm Begley has already suggested that the latest GAA initiative to eradicate cynical fouling will fail because players will deliberately get a third black card in order to serve their suspension in the final games of the Allianz League and not the championship.

McEnaney admitted that would not surprise him.

He said: "You see it in soccer where they accumulate (cards). I know a fella in Division One of the English league.

"One of the boys used to always accumulate three cards before Christmas so that he'd be suspended for the Christmas period and get home.

"We can't eradicate that, it is possible."

But McEnaney, who has led the nationwide education programme on the new rules for 2014 said he still believes they will improve Gaelic games and help take the cynicism out of them.

Only top-quality championship referees will be assigned games in the first round of Leinster's pre-season Bord Na Mona tournaments (O'Byrne and Walsh Cups) to help make for a smoother transition. Seminars have taken place in all 32 counties, and 2,100 club referees have already been briefed.

Meanwhile, Tipperary chairman Sean Nugent has accused the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) of hampering his county's fundraising initiatives in the United States.

He said that when Tipperary took the unprecedented step of going abroad to seek help paying off their debt of close to half a million euro last April, they discovered that the GPA had visited the Big Apple ahead of them and affected their fundraising potential.

Tipperary still managed to dramatically turn around their financial problems in the past year.

"We were surprised to find that the GPA were there before us, also on a fundraising mission," said Nugent.

The Tipp chief claimed that this caused some confusion among the county's US-based supporters as to which cause they should support, and he asked the GAA top brass to ensure there are no more fundraising conflicts.

"How are the counties expected to fund inter-county teams and improve facilities for county players if we have to compete with another tier of fundraising?" he said.

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