Pat McEnaney: Black card is doing its job

The GAA’s former referees chief Pat McEnaney insists there is nothing inherently wrong with the black card.

The Monaghan man, who rallied support for the disciplinary measure in 2013, claims referees are not applying the rule on a consistent basis.

McEnaney was at Sunday’s All-Ireland final but did not see replay footage of the incidents picked out by RTÉ’s Sunday Game panel later that evening.

The trio of Dessie Dolan, Tomás Ó Sé and Ciarán Whelan believed more black cards should have been shown than the one issued to James McCarthy in the first half for a bodycheck on Cillian O’Connor.

However, McEnaney said Conor Lane’s decision to yellow card Michael Darragh Macauley for a neck-high foul on Mayo captain O’Connor was correct as was the call, assisted by linesman Joe McQuillan, to black card McCarthy – “he deliberately body collided with him (O’Connor). He didn’t excuse himself. It was a marginal call but he (Lane) got it right.”

McEnaney also felt O’Connor should have been black-carded towards the end for pulling down Darren Daly.

“That was definitely one.”

He believes Lane had a good game but is aware of the criticism the black card has received towards the end of the championship and how referees have been spared the rod. He suggests it should be the other way around.

“Has the black card been a success in taking cynical play out of the game like the body check? The answer is ‘yes’. Have referees been consistent with the black card? The answer is ‘no’. We need to fix that problem. The black card is doing its job but referees are not being consistent enough in applying it. Why get rid of it? It’s like the 120km speed limit on the M1. Do we get rid of it because people are breaking it all the time or do we try and implement it consistently?

“If there is something better out there than the black card then let’s have it but you can’t say the body-check hasn’t all but gone out of the game. People forget about the amount of it that was going on before the black card. It would be interesting to a survey with forwards like Andy Moran and ask them has the black card been better in eradicating cynical play like the body-check.” McEnaney felt David Gough should have shown Kerry defender Shane Enright a black card in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin. “That tackle by Shane Enright, even the crowd knew that was a black card. The commentators knew it too but David Gough didn’t show it.

“Apart from the inconsistency with the black card, the standard of refereeing has been quite good. Conor Lane was quite good as were (semi-final referees) David Gough and David Coldrick. There hasn’t been one massive mistake with the black card but referee are still not good enough with it on a regular basis. My advice to them would be to sit down after the replay and review where referees are with the consistency of applying the black card and be right for the start of the National League.”

On the subject of time-keeping, McEnaney has nothing but praise for match officials. “You look at the amount of time that has been added on this year and I think the whole issue of time- wasting has been cleaned up pretty well. The additional seconds for substitutes etc has had a big impact and you don’t have fellas falling down now or managers making subs to slow down the play. That’s been managed pretty well.”

Twenty years on from Mayo’s last All-Ireland final replay against Meath, which McEnaney refereed, the Corduff clubman won’t be too far from a lot of Mayo minds in the build-up to Saturday week’s game.

His dismissal of Liam McHale following the first-half melee has never been forgotten in the county. “We live in the present and what I would say is ‘let’s move on’. I’m not losing any sleep over it. I’m a big boy!”

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