Keel chairman warns black card could ‘ruin smaller clubs’

Keel chairman William O’Shea is convinced the black card will destroy small rural GAA clubs.

The Kerry side will be among the first clubs in the country to be exposed to the new rules next month in their All-Ireland junior football semi-final against Roscommon’s Fuerty.

Both Valentia and Tuosist have already aired their concerns in Kerry and believe the measure aimed at reducing cynical play will put more pressure on their substitute benches.

O’Shea is of the same mind but paints a bleaker picture: “I think it will ruin smaller rural clubs. It hasn’t been debated properly because they didn’t give a thought to them. We don’t have a big squad and I’m sure the other clubs left in the competition are like us. It’s not going to work.

“There is one senior league club in Kerry, everybody knows who they are, and they were only just able to field a team this year. When the black card comes in they’ll be pushed to find someone to replace the player.”

Both O’Shea and Clyda Rovers manager John Walsh, who leads his county into an All-Ireland Club IFC semi-final against Mayo’s Kiltaine the same weekend at the end of January, have raised questions about the black card applying to a competition after Christmas and not before it.

“We would have concerns that the new rules need a bedding-in period. We’ll have a couple of challenge games with the new rules in operation and have organised for one of the best referees over Christmas to go through with us in detail about what to do and what not to do.

“The Football Review Committee are calling for everything to finish in the calendar year and I would definitely be in favour of it being involved as we are. You have to strike a balance between Christmas and training but it’s the same for every club still involved. I think it would make sense that if the provinces are finished in November then the All-Ireland championship should be too.”

Keel are also planning a briefing with an inter-county referee. O’Shea hopes referees give a degree of clemency to players on each team as they get acquainted with the black card.

“We actually thought this competition would finish with the old rules. No club plays until February anyway and you could bring in the new rules for the next season.

“After Christmas, we hope to bring in one of the top referees in the county, talk to him about the rules for a night or two and play a challenge game or two.

“We’d hope referees would be slightly more lenient or perhaps more cautious about showing them.”

National match officials manager Pat Doherty has allayed any concern that there may be grounds for appeal about a result because the black card applies to the 2014 part of the club championships and not 2013.

“I’d be confident that’s everything in order. If somebody challenges it then let them at it. Central Council have clarified that this is the way to go.”

Doherty confirmed the national referees’ committee have asked the provincial councils to appoint referees from the championship rota for their January pre-season competitions.

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