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Former GAA Referees Chief Staunchly Defends Black Card System

Black Card

The black card in gaelic football has been subject to much debate, particularly in recent days as James McCarthy was given his marching orders in the All-Ireland final. Confusion reigns amongst referees when to apply it, and many are calling for change.

Former GAA referees chief Pat McEnaney, speaking to the Irish Examiner, has weighed in on the debate, opining that the rules is solid, but the standard and consistency of implementation must improve.

Rule Changes of Gaelic Football Press Briefing 5/11/2013 Today the GAA launched a new education Video/DVD which is available on and will also be sent to all clubs via their county board and to all referees.  Pictured today Chairman of National Referee Committee Pat McEnaney Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

“Has the black card been a success in taking cynical play out of the game like the body check? The answer is ‘yes’. Have referees been consistent with it? The answer is ‘no’. We need to fix that problem. The black card is doing its job but referees are not being consistent enough in applying it. Why get rid of it? It’s like the 120km speed limit on the M1. Do we get rid of it because people are breaking it all the time or do we try and implement it consistently?”

Dublin vs Mayo Dublin's James McCarthy after being black carded Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer GAA All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 18/9/2016

“People forget about the amount of it (cynical play) that was going on before the black card. It would be interesting to a survey with forwards like Andy Moran and ask them has the black card been better in eradicating cynical play like the body-check.

“Apart from the inconsistency with it, the standard of refereeing has been quite good. Conor Lane was quite good as were (semi-final referees) David Gough and David Coldrick. There hasn’t been one massive mistake with the black card but referee are still not good enough with it on a regular basis. My advice to them would be to sit down after the replay and review where referees are with the consistency of applying the black card and be right for the start of the National League.”

It takes a high-profile game like the All-Ireland final to open a real debate on the issue, and there is likely to be continued dialogue in the coming months.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.