With the Championship season now over, we begin the GAA's unique winter of discontent: debating the very rules of the sport. The future of the black card is now up for debate, following the card's liberal use during the All-Ireland finals: Johnny Cooper, Lee Keegan and Rob Hennelly all saw their finals ended for relatively innocuous challenges, given the fury that was unfolding around them.
Jim McGuinness wrote in today's Irish Times that the black card is "ruining football", refuting Eugene McGee's belief in the rule he helped introduce:
Eugene McGee, one of its architects, has said that it has cleaned up the game. In my opinion, the black card is ruining the game. You simply cannot have two of the best players in the sport leaving the game in an All-Ireland final – the biggest game of their lives – for what were, at best, fouls that merited free kicks.
Technically, Cooper’s was a black card. But the ball wasn’t even in play at the time: it was a nothing-moment in the middle of the park. And Keegan’s indiscretion was much greyer. He grappled with Diarmuid Connolly: he had his hand on his shoulder but they fell together. Did he drag him down? Impossible to say. It was a foul, yes. Was it a yellow card foul? I’m not sure.
You couldn’t say with certainty that it was a black card offence. There was no cynical, deliberate intent to drag his opponent to the ground.
McGuinness went to point out that the problem is the black card always favours the team with the deepest squad, before confirming his belief that "it has to go".
McGee spoke on Midlands 103 this afternoon in response to McGuinness' column, and decided to get slightly personal with McGuinness over the whole thing.
Jim McGuinness thinks because he won one All-Ireland he is the high priest of football and the Irish times gives him space to expound on his theories.
If he is that good, why didn't he win a second All-Ireland or a third All-Ireland?
McGee then defended the black card, saying that most people are content with the rule, and said that the problem is the inconsistency of referees:
The vast majority of people I know are happy with the black card. It is a strange new rule and it has taken a long time to get used to it.
No two referees use it the same wat, that is what we call inconsistencies but you could say that about many other things like picking the ball off the ground, the penalty or the square ball.
The black card will be fully integrated when it is seen as just another rule, and that appears to be the stage McGee is at.
McGuinness floated the idea of a sin-bin, while admitting that it is flawed. The most interesting alternate proposal came from former Kerry midfielder Mike Quirke, which you can read here.