Leading inter-county football referee David Coldrick has pleaded with the GAA to abide by the new playing rules and support match officials.
The Meath man forecasts a stormy January for the black card in its infancy as a permanent alteration but hopes Croke Park stick to their guns and refuse to cave into critics.
“Referee will go out there and they will implement the new rules as they’ve been laid down and whatever happens at the end of that – and obviously, referees are behind these rule changes – once the association gives its full backing to these rules, there’ll be no issue from a refereeing point of view.
“There’s no doubt in that first month or two that maybe – and it’s hard to know until they’re in practice – teams finishing with 13 players a side or whatever.
“Then maybe the pressure will come on, that maybe this isn’t the right way for the organisation to go. There’s a possibility that that will happen in the first month or two, as it did with the old experimental rules.
“Players, teams, management – they will get up to speed with the rules and once we get across that period it will just become part of the game – and I’ve no reason to doubt the GAA’s backing for these rules, once that backing remains steadfast throughout that early period.”
Coldrick knows the biggest culture shock will be for club referees. “The inter-county referee has been used to different sets of experimental rules over the last number of years. But for the club referee this is his biggest challenge over the last number of years because it’s the first major set of rule changes that is going down to grassroots.
“So it’s up to us through the education that we’re going to roll out over the next month and a half and obviously follow-up sessions coming in January to try and bring the club referees with us and make sure we can bed it in right down to grassroots.”
Players in possession who haul down the tackler will also be black carded. Coldrick admits it will be a decision open to interpretation. “Referees have to be 100% certain. They can’t be only half and half.”
Abuse of a referee has also been termed a black card offence but Coldrick doesn’t believe it’s a serious issue at inter-county level.
“People might be surprised by that but no. I suppose we’re not the same as rugby, no-one has yet to call me sir but at the same time we’re probably somewhere between soccer on one side and rugby on the other.”
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