GAA congress took place over the weekend and with it came the customary tinkering of the rules in both codes.
While hurling having a black card introduced for the first time grabbed most of the headlines, there has also been a tinkering to the way the card is used in Gaelic football.
In both codes, penalties will now awarded and the offending player sent to the sin bin for a foul inside the 20-metre line that denies a clear goalscoring opportunity.
However, in Gaelic football the referee must also adjudge if the foul was a 'deliberate' piece of cynicism, unlike in hurling. This leaves the rule open to interpretation and some potential controversy.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, Kerry legend Tomás Ó Sé said that the new rules surrounding the black card could add to the confusion that is already present around its use in Gaelic football.
'This rule would want to be very clearly explained to managers, players, supporters'
Tomás Ó Sé spoke on @morningireland about the split season in the GAA and the use of penalties to deter cynical fouling
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— RTÉ GAA (@RTEgaa) March 1, 2021
Was there a need for it? Yes.
One thing that comes to mind for me is players in the dying minutes of close games, they don't care if they take a black card for the team as long as the opposition don't score a goal.You miss the last few minutes and you’re back for the next match so you’re not hurt that much.
This rule would want to be very clearly explained to managers, players, supporters. There is a potential for grey area.
The problems will arise for the ref in deciding whether a goal was actually on. He has to make that call.
My issue with the black card is that you’re asking the ref to get inside the head of a defender and figure out if it was an intentional, cynical foul.
It’s so difficult to ref. We question it in every single match, 'It should be a black’ or ‘It wasn’t a black’.
This could be worse again. Will other defenders in the area be taken into account in terms of potentially stopping that goal chance?
The ref will have to make that call and it’s a tough one. It could cause difficulties going forward.
There is little doubt that this interpretation of the rule is going to cause some controversy at some stage this year. Lets just hope that the issues are ironed out before the championship rolls around.