Introduce the clock/hooter system or today’s sin bin proposal risks being a disaster, warns former Football Review Committee (FRC) member Paul Earley.
Twice the clock/hooter has been voted in by Congress, first as recommended by Wexford and then by the FRC, only to be shot down by the Central Competitions Control Committee and then voted out by Congress despite county grounds being fitted with the technology.
One of the reasons cited for the U-turn was how the system might contribute to teams “fouling down the clock”. However, former Roscommon star Earley believes that is more likely with the introduction of a 10-minute sin bin with no allowance for stoppages.
“A team is ahead and goes down to 14 men in the final 10 minutes. What are they going to do but run down the clock especially when the sin bin countdown doesn’t stop? Players and teams have found ways to foul cynically without the black card like the pullback and I think the same thing will apply with the sin bin.
My issue with the sin bin is ‘what is 10 minutes?’ The sin doesn’t deliver a level playing field because it could be three minutes for one player with stoppages and seven minutes for another. With the absence of the stop-clock, I think the sin bin isn’t the right mechanism.
“We proposed the stop-clock and it was approved but like a few things that we got passed they never were seen through to the end and we might be in a better place now if they were. As it stands, the sin bin is only a half measure.”
Earley is glad to see a workshop taking place at Special Congress today in relation to the issue of cynical fouls.
“The five fouls that constitute the black card have to be looked at again as to what are the main cynical fouls . Blocking (third man tackle) has been completely eradicated from the game. However, we saw in the Dublin quarter-final the other night Conor McHugh being sent off, which looked to me to be a disgraceful decision because he was being held and held, which is completely cynical and yet there were two yellow cards issued.
"The GAA needs to look at punishing the instigator of a foul and having a specific punishment for that player and not the typical reaction of giving two yellows and distinguishing him from the player who retaliates.”
“In the All-Ireland final replay, we saw Tadhg Morley running in on goal and being pulled back and that denied him a clear goal-scoring opportunity. There wasn’t even a yellow card handed out for that but a tick. Technically, the referee was correct but it was a professional foul denying him a goal opportunity so that needs to be included under the black card as a pull-back.”