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Tony Scullion ready for torrent of criticism over 'black card' decisions

By Declan Bogue

Tony Scullion says that he and his fellow Football Review Committee (FRC) members will not be discouraged by the inevitable fall-out from managers and commentators when the 'black card' comes into force from January onwards.

Scullion, who is serving as a selector for Ireland in this year's series against Australia, spoke yesterday about his relief that Motion 4 – to introduce a new black card to Gaelic football to deal with five specific types of 'cynical' foul, was passed at Congress in Derry back in March.

Yet, he realises that as soon as the 2014 season begins, there will be many headlines and criticisms while it goes through a bedding-in period.

"We are not concerned of the negative talk about the black card and we have heard a lot of talk before it went before Congress," Scullion explained.

"There were people trying to get their point across to not vote on it. Thanks be to God I think people saw sense and felt that it would be better for the game. We don't need deliberate tripping, we don't need deliberate pulling down, we don't need body-checking taking people out of the game."

With less than 10 weeks remaining until the new rules come into force, and with the benefit of almost seven months since the vote was taken, Scullion claims the FRC were merely reflecting the will of GAA people.

"This wasn't just a decision by the FRC Committee, we consulted people on the ground, over 3,000 people who came back on our survey. We had 700 emails and lots of letters from the older generation.

"We feel the black card will –please God – remove these tackles. People feel that they only happen in the last five minutes of games, they can happen in the opening five minutes as well. We don't want to see that, we want to see good tackling, good defending.

"I thought there were times there was plenty of criticism of teams and players doing it, but they were only doing it when it was within the rules."

As a player, Scullion played in these series in 1987 and 1990. He admits there were "a few wee scrimmages", but claims that type of game now would place the future of this series in jeopardy.

"We want to see good hard, tough, honest games. There is room for the shoulder tackle in the game but some of the outbursts that we seen in previous years – we don't want to see that anymore," Scullion commented.

"For the series to continue, it has to be pure football. As I say, it's one thing we don't want to see happening over the next two weekends, absolutely not."

Any hope of the blatant violence that scarred the tests in 2005 and 2006 will be unlikely, given the mark-up of both panels, the four-time All-Star reveals.

"The type of player they are using now, by all accounts, their team this year are very sharp, very fit, mobile players who will play the game.

"It's all about skill now, that's what is coming from the Irish camp and I am sure it's the same in the Australia camp. They will be out there to play football."

Belfast Telegraph

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