Good, bad and an end to the ugly?

Some months ago, this machine produced a column, nervously but cautiously optimistically awaiting the response to – and implementation of – the Football Review Committee (FRC) findings. The FRC, chaired by Eugene McGee, presumably sought to indentify what was wrong with Gaelic football. And, obviously, pinpoint ways of rectifying same.
At the time, it was acknowledged that change was needed regarding yellow cards. It was protested, though, that the proposals for going about it were a “fudge”. “It will lead to a situation where – instead of dishing cards out like confetti as an unbearable number of whistle happy referees currently do – there will nearly have to be public beheadings before they go for their pockets. 

GAA President Liam O’Neill
No balance at all. And all because the idea of expelling a player on a yellow from a game is a total nonsense. It was tried before and was a disaster. The simple and logical thing to do would be to revert back to the ‘original’ version of the Sin Bin that should never have done away with. Whereby a transgressor gets ten minutes off the field, can return and, if they muck up again, naturally, they’re gone for the remainder of the game”
Those were my feelings at the time and, sadly, it appears the fudge is going to be on the menu for some time and, yet again, common sense has lost out. Right, so one supposes the new initiatives should be allowed due process having surprisingly – and frankly disappointingly – been ratified at Congress in Derry recently.
Even though, the black card was ratified – albeit its introduction has been deferred until January 1st next – one wonders even at that whether it’ll make it into being without further challenge. For, as well as there being entrenched opposition to the proposal – one local referee was even more stark in his assessment of the impact it’ll have on football than this columnist would venture – it also seems froth with loopholes.
The black card is being introduced to eradicate what are basically tactical fouls. The thing is, a player expelled from a match from a black card offence can be replaced. So, in theory, a player skating a thin line could seek to ‘go’ for a black card transgression. Thus being replaced. Whereas a player cannot be replaced if put off for either a straight red or two yellows.
It seems a fine idea in theory but could be chaotic to police. As was opined in the original piece, there’s good and bad in these FRC proposals but the question is will the black card bring about the end to ugly play it has been brought in to? We await with slightly sceptical interest!
Adopting the black card – if it goes unchallenged, which I doubt – represents the bad in the headline above. However, in the unlikely and unthinkable event that it does work, it may bring an end to what some people see as the ugly side of football.
As was said months ago – and as is the case with every story – there is an element of good in what was passed in Derry as well. First among which was a very belated step away from the draconian measure of suspending players for numbers of weeks – which strangely and wrongly still applies in rugby – in favour match bans.
Also welcome is the introduction – albeit on a trial basis – of video technology. Chief among the concerns about this move is a fear that it will be confined to Croke Park. There’s no need for that to be the case. Every county ground now is of at least a reasonable standard and should be capable of hosting sufficient camera and video recorder/playback facility. Even if it is only trialled at HQ, the hope would be that it would eventually be rolled out on a broader scale.
All the positive things that emerged from this congress are to be welcomed. Being honest, however, the overwhelming feeling is of glorious opportunities missed. In terms of the ‘Mark’ – yet again ridiculously ignored – the countdown clock, and the re-introduction of a rule at the very least limiting hand passes.
Time has proven though – by the ratification of the use of five subs, red and yellow cards and electronic substitution boards – that these changes will probably eventually happen. We live in hope rather than expectation.

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