2020 committee eyes automatic subs for second yellow card

An automatic substitution for a second yellow card is expected to be among the Hurling 2020 recommendations released later today.

The group, chaired by Tipperary’s 2010 All-Ireland winning manager Liam Sheedy, are set to propose teams be allowed to replace players for second but lower grade cautionable offences. Double yellow red cards would continue to exist but for more serious transgressions.

The introduction of an advantage rule, the one-versus-one penalty, a separate referees body for hurling and a blueprint for the development of the game in both strong, up-and-coming and weaker counties are speculated to be among the recommendations which will go forward to Congress in Cavan next month.

It is the committee’s contention that too many players have been sent off after picking up second yellow cards for relatively innocuous fouls and that an automatic substitution would be a more appropriate form of punishment.

Although there appears to be no appetite for a black card in hurling, it may well be introduced if there is confusion about exactly what yellow card is shown. In January 2013, Croke Park amended the Football Review Committee’s deliberate “yellow and you’re off” rule as it was not only deemed too severe but they also recognised difficulties there might be in distinguishing one yellow card from another.

A five-second advantage rule, identical to that currently in operation in Gaelic football, is also being proposed as well as one-versus-one penalties with the sliotar being struck before or on the 20 metre line.

The new penalty format will be trialled in this month’s pre-season competitions, the Waterford Crystal Cup and the Walsh and Kehoe Cups before a final motion is formulated.

One suggestion which will stir plenty of debate is a separate national referees body for hurling, something which is unlikely to curry much favour in Croke Park. However, Cork secretary Frank Murphy recently insisted on the measure: “Hurling and Gaelic football are two very distinctive games. It would be in the interest of both games that each would have separate referees and appointments committees at national level.”

Former Wexford manager Liam Griffin called for the divide back in 2002 and his sentiments were echoed by ex-Limerick manager John Allen in 2013. After Henry Shefflin and Pa Horgan’s controversial sendings off that summer, he said: “Referees are under huge pressure to play to the rules and so on. I’d lot of sympathy for Barry Kelly and for James McGrath from the Munster final. You make a decision in real time and people can parse it and analyse it on TV and papers. A lot of the yellow cards are for very innocuous fouls. It puts a lot of pressure on players and referees if they give a yellow card to a player early on. I think there needs to be a separate hurling referees group and forum because hurling and football are very different games. I just feel that’s probably necessary.”

The belief among several hurling counties is their concerns about the handling of the game are not heard at central level. The last three national referees committee chairmen had been inter-county football match officials — current incumbent Pat McEnaney, Mick Curley and PJ McGrath.


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