Opinion is split, but the lion share of players don’t see the need for a black card being introduced in Hurling
With the GAA’s annual congress just around the corner, there’s the usual smattering of topics that will be discussed. Among them this year are no back pass to the keeper from a kick out in football, referees being able to consult Hawk-Eye following a request from a competing manger or captain. There’s even a motion in there for a two point reward for a converted sideline ball in hurling.
But the motion that appears to be making the most noise and forming a lot of opinion is the possibility of introducing the Black Card in Hurling.
It took many years in Football for the Black Card to “bed in” and some believe that it’s still not right for purpose. Most recently the Black Card rule has changed in that instead of a team being able to bring on a substitute for the carded player, the player is now placed in a sin bin for 10 minutes, similar to what happens for a yellow card in Ladies Football.
But in the fast paced game of hurling, could a black card system work? No one is trying to say that there is no cynicism in the game. But even at the slower pace of football, it’s hard for referees to make the right call on the rule.
The Refs have their say
In a recent piece in the Irish Examiner, three former hurling referees on the topic. And there appeared to be a clear two versus one in favour of the rule changes.
Carlow’s Pat Ahern refereed hurling at the top level over 16 years during the 1990’s and 2000’s. He believes that there is a decent case for both the Black Card and the Sin Bin in Hurling.
“I went to last year’s All-Ireland final between Kilkenny and Tipperary. During the first half, how many scores came from open play? Both teams defended fairly cynically on the day, giving up frees, before the game blew open in the second half.”
Likewise Galway native Jimmy Cooney does see more cynicism creeping into the game. Cooney played hurling in the 80’s and in the 90’s turned his hand to refereeing.
“To me, you do see more cynical drag-backs. Maybe it’s coming in from football, but it’s definitely on the increase in hurling. No harm in giving these changes a trial. Let’s see if they do reduce the annoying stuff.”
The only one of the three who didn’t agree was Dublin native Aodán McSuibhne. The St. Judes clubman, now a resident on Balla, County Mayo feels the games of hurling and football should be treated differently.
“I wouldn’t be removing a player from the field without very good reason. A close game really heats up in the last ten minutes. If this black card or sin bin comes in, you are going to see a disproportionate amount of big decisions happening when a game comes to the boil. Do we want the major talking points after an All-Ireland final to be a hurler, or maybe several hurlers, sitting out the last ten minutes?”
What do the players and managers think?
While there might be a majority of officials in favour of the introduction, it certainly doesn’t appear to be the same when you ask players and managers of the game.
And there have been some high profile names who are happy to air their opinions.
The other day former Dublin forward Ryan O’Dwyer made no bones about his disdain at the possibility and told the Independent earlier this week that “you don’t really get the time to be too cynical”.
“None of the players want this”, he added.
Current Dublin defender and former team mate of O’Dwyer, Chris Crummey is also of the opinion that there is no appetite for the Black Card in hurling.
“Personally, I wouldn’t be a fan of it.” he told the Examiner.
“I think the game is in a very good place, some of the matches over the last few years have been some of the best matches that have taken place over the last few decades”.
Other big names in the game, like Waterford’s Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh, and Kilkenny’s Richie Hogan agree that the rule introduction could blight the sport, dubbed as the greatest field sport in the world.
And with Brian Cody, who knows the game better than anyone, reins in with a similar opinion, you know how players and managers really feel.
“No, look, I just want referees please to use common sense. Let the game flow.” he told the Mirror.
“Blow what you need to blow if it’s dangerous but let it off otherwise.”