Across 63 championship games this summer, 58 black cards were dished out by referees, an increase of seven on last year’s total despite a greater number of championship matches played in 2014 (64).
There was a similar rise in the black card count during the league, this year’s figure of 105 representing a 11% spike compared with 2014 (95).
The instance of black cards shown in 2015 is again less than one per game, rising, however, from 0.80 to 0.90. In the championship alone, the instance of black cards per game shot from 0.80 to 0.92.
All-Ireland winners Dublin picked up just two black cards over the course of their seven championship outings — both offences (Denis Bastick and Michael Dara McCauley the guilty parties) arriving in the drawn semi-final against Mayo.
Kerry picked up six in the national league, one less than chief offenders Down, but reduced this significantly during the championship — Eamonn Fitzmaurice had only three players sent to the line throughout their six games — David Moran in the Munster final, Marc Ó Sé in the All-Ireland semi-final against Tyrone and Aidan O’Mahony in last Sunday’s decider.
Galway, on four, were top of the list for the championship — Paul Conroy ordered off against Mayo, Gary Sice and Cathal Sweeney in the qualifier win over Armagh and Danny Cummins against Derry. The latter three were sent to the line in the closing minutes of the respective qualifier games for text-book cynical fouls.
Whereas the introduction of the black card in 2014 heralded a 9.5% rise in the total aggregate score per championship game, the average score per game this summer was 32.7, a drop of 6%.
The instance of goals scored per game fell from 2.34 last year to 2.09 in the 2015 championship.
In Tuesday’s Irish Examiner, Cork’s 1987 and ’88 All Star full-back Colman Corrigan and former Monaghan and Meath manager Seamus McEnaney expressed staunch opposition to the black card and cited the inconsistency over its policing as one of the primary contributing factors to a most disappointing summer of football.
“The rules of football need to be looked at,” said Corrigan. “The interpretation of the black card by referees from game-to-game is most frustrating, from both a player’s and spectators point of view. A tackle that merits a black card one week may often yield no card at all the following week. There is no consistency at all.”