The Black Card experiment is surely nearing the end. The fact that it was refereed more or less correctly at the weekend served to accentuate the harshness of the sentence: Dean Rock and Kevin McKernan had their provincial finals cut short prematurely for relatively benign offences.
Toward the end of the Leinster final, Kildare midfielder Kevin Feely also received a black card, which had little effect on the outcome of the game. Feely had been outstanding, ruling the Croke Park skies above Brian Fenton, but Kildare were a beaten docket by the time he received his marching orders six minutes from time.
That card, however, will have a much greater impact on Kildare than many initially believed. This was Feely's third black card of the year, having picked up a pair in league games with Clare and Cork. That means he is suspended for the Round 4B qualifier, (AKA The Geezer Derby) against Armagh on Saturday week.
Kildare may yet appeal the decision, but if the suspension stands, Feely's absence will be a huge blow to the Lilywhites. Kildare are also likely to be without captain Eoin Doyle, who has sustained a thumb injury.
As regards the future of the card, Pat McEnaney has been brutally honest about the rule's limitations. Speaking in May to the We Are Ulster podcast, McEnaney admitted that this year is critical for its long-term future:
I'm disappointed it hasn't reached the level we expected it to reach. For bodychecking, yeah, that's been great. But this is a big year for it. Even people like myself, who have advocated it and been vocal about getting it right.
If we don't get it right, the Association, and fellas like myself, will have to have a wee think about it. But the Championship this year is a big year for it, and if it's not successful, we need to be big enough, strong enough, and mentally tough enough to say 'right, let's go back and revisit it'.