Mc Manussays jury still out on black card

He was held aloft as the poster boy for those advocating the introduction of the black card after being infamously hauled down by Sean Cavanagh in last summer’s All-Ireland quarter-final, but Monaghan’s Conor McManus remains unconvinced about its merits.

Mc Manussays jury still out on black card

Unconvinced, at best.

The Clontibret man is no recent convert to the side of the sceptics. Emotions were still running high countrywide over Tyrone’s two-point win last August when he spoke about possible rule changes on radio and TV in the weeks afterwards.

He said on one occasion that the use of black cards could actually prove to be more controversial while, on a subsequent night and programme, he championed the case for red cards for players found guilty of cynical fouls in scoring positions.

And now? “To be honest, I haven’t found a real major difference.

“At the start [of the league] there was all this talk about the black card and maybe defenders were afraid of getting put off early, but as the league went on the black card became less relevant and teams went out and played as they would normally.

“In championship I think it could have less and less of an impact. There could be an odd tackle somewhere that’ll get a black card but overall it’s sort of levelled itself out at this stage.

“I don’t think I’m getting any more freedom than I was last year. If anything, it seems to be even harder to get away from these defenders.”

Yes, he has heard all about the GAA’s report last week which announced a 10% increase in scores this spring compared to last, but even that hasn’t been enough to convince him of the bona fides of the new regulations.

The championship, he claimed, will be its crucible.

We may well witness a repeat of last August when McManus was dragged to the turf by Cavanagh who, at that time, had no hesitation in collecting a yellow card for preventing a near certain goal towards the end of such a high-stakes contest.

It’s here where McManus’ uncertainty over the rule arises. Will a player think twice now that a black card is in place?

Yes, he says, but he qualifies it by suggesting that much will depend on the time the incident occurs.

It’s hard to think of many players who will hesitate to reach for an opponent’s jersey or legs if there are only five minutes to go, but then the flip side of the coin is when a player is shown the new card only five minutes in for offences of less consequence.

McManus touched on this point too, using for evidence the case of Castlebar Mitchels’ Richie Feeney who got his marching orders at the start of this year’s All-Ireland club final for an off-the-ball block on a St Vincent’s player.

No-one doubted it was a silly foul and one that fell squarely within the remit of the black cards, but McManus is among those who believes that such a decision so early in a tie places undue pressure on the match officials.

“Referees, if they are doing their jobs they are not talked about and they don’t want to be talked about. “They don’t want to be in the headlines and if they have to make a split call like that which will impact on a game that is not where they want to be either.

So it does put extra pressure on them?

“They have yellow cards, red cards and now they have black cards as well. In saying that, it does seem to be …. there has been nothing overly controversial this year so far.”

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