Mixed response to Counihan’s red card call

Conor Counihan’s suggestion to send off players who get involved in melees has received mixed reaction among GAA officialdom and his fellow inter-county bosses.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio following Sunday’s Allianz Football LeagueDivision 1 draw in Armagh, which featured a 28-man shemozzle, the Cork manager said something has to be done to cut such incidents out.

“It happens week-in, week-out,” said Counihan.

“I don’t think there were any fists thrown in that melee, a lot of jostling. But it shouldn’t happen and the GAA need to decide whether they want it to happen or not.

“As long as they keep allowing it to happen, everybody is going to allow them.”

Asked what should be done, Counihan responded: “Surely implementing the rule — anyone who gets into it is put to the line, it’s as simple as that.”

National Referees Committee (NRC) chairman Mick Curley sees value in the idea but is uncertain how practical it is.

“It all depends on the actual situation. You might have two players and clearly see a third player coming in and that’s fine but a shemozzle can involve six or seven players and who are you going to pick out? All of them?

“The idea of the third player is a good idea if it’s workable. You could end up sending off four players and that’s serious.

“Referees can get enough stick for sending off one but imagine four.”

Tipperary manager John Evans is not so sure the matter of melees is a pressing one for the GAA.

“There’s a team ethic there. Everyone wants to support the player and a lot of them can be on the spur of the moment.

“They’re hugely regrettable but it’s the type of thing that’s gone out of the game. I haven’t come across it in the last three or four years.

“It’s a flash thing. If a referee or sideline official steps in it’s usually stamped out in an instant.”

Monaghan’s Eamonn McEneaney believes the sin bin rule, last seen in the 2009 leagues on an experimental basis, could be used to deal with incidents involving a mass of players.

“Fellas do things in the heat of the moment they shouldn’t do. Striking, a box in the head, a kick, they’re well covered in the rules and the players have to walk.

“But in terms of pushing and shoving and the third man in, the sin bin idea could work. If a team loses two men all of a sudden they’re down to 13 and that makes them think twice. No manager wants to be down to 13 men.”

McEneaney also insists the actions of “the third man in” distracts from the original incident involving the two players.

“The third man in is getting punished now and the original incident is not getting dealt with.

“When you see players who are committing fouls for the fifth or sixth time in the game and they’re still on the pitch you have to ask what is going on.

“We all know the type of players who are being consistently fouled. You want the game to be hard but what some of them have to be put up with is unacceptable especially when you have two linesmen, four umpires as well as the referee.

“Referees, by and large, are trying to stamp it out but they need more support in relation to what they’re doing. Their hands are tied in some cases and, again, the sin bin idea is one way of helping them.”

Meanwhile, Curley clarified there were no directives given to referees ahead of this past weekend’s first round of the Allianz Football League.

A multitude of yellow cards were handed out by officials but there were no orders given by the NRC.

“There’s a bit of myth about directives. At seminars, we might attention to examples of fouls that haven’t been dealt with but there are no directives given. It was a good start to the league. There were a lot of high scoring in the games.”

Following the first weekend of match-based bans on a trial basis, which could see Eamon Fennell and Paul Kerrigan face the new suspensions, Curley says it’s too early to say whether they are here to stay.

“It remains to be seen. Only over time will it become more discernible.”

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Discover the

Install our free app today

Available on