Diarmuid Connolly blames ‘RTÉ clown’ for black card rules

Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly has attacked officials for constantly meddling with Gaelic football’s rules and implored them to simply leave well enough alone.

The talented forward let loose on the ‘Mark’ rule which comes into play on January 1, describing it as a ‘dead duck’ and also hit out at the controversial black card which he says simply isn’t needed.

The four-time All-Ireland winning play-maker claimed that the black card was only introduced in 2014 because an analyst “in an RTÉ studio decides to throw the toys out of the pram’.

That was a reference to pundit Joe Brolly’s criticism of Sean Cavanagh for his infamous drag down of Monaghan’s Conor McManus during the 2013 Championship.

Newly crowned All Star Connolly has seen every colour of card himself during his Dublin career and is adamant that yellow and red are enough to deal with anything that occurs in a game.

The AIB Leinster club finalist with St Vincent’s next weekend said that the game is fine as it is and that GAA officials should stop altering the rules.

“I think it’s silly bringing in these rules,” said Connolly. “There is nearly one every two years, a different change or something going on. I don’t think it’s benefiting the game. It’s putting bad publicity on the game. Like, the black card has been publicised so much. Referees are coming under constant scrutiny over it. Players are coming under scrutiny over it.

“People in the media the same. There was no need for it, I didn’t think. Just because Sean Cavanagh pulled a guy down and some clown in an RTÉ studio decides to throw the toys out of the pram and make it more than it was.

“If they wanted, in my opinion, to make a rule, then it would be a red card for (illegally preventing) a clear goal scoring opportunity and a yellow card for cynical play. You have your two cards, there they are.

“I think we are a little bit quick to make rules on our game that I don’t think we needed to.”

Fiery Connolly has received just the one black card since it was brought in for 2014.

“But I don’t play in a position where I have to make those tackles all the time,” said the half-forward. “I can pull out of a challenge in the half-forward line but you can’t do that when someone goes around you and the letter of the law says a deliberate pull down is a black card.

“There was a card for that already, it’s called a red card. You see that in every other sport. I don’t agree with the black card anyway.”

As for the ‘Mark’, Connolly suggested that there’s no need for it.

“How many clean catches have you seen outside the 45 in the last five or six years?” he asked. “Are they trying to bring that back? I don’t know. Will it work? I’m not sure. Not too many goalkeepers in the modern game just bomb the ball out to the middle and look for someone to catch it.

“It might be a factor but I don’t think it’s going to be a major one. It’s a dead duck really, that ‘Mark’. I think they tried it before and it didn’t work.”

Connolly, one of six Dubliners to receive an All Star recently following their back to back Championship heroics, also hit out at the omission of Stephen Cluxton from the list.

He claimed that Cluxton’s difficulties approaching half-time against Kerry when Dublin conceded two goals were blown out of proportion.

“I thought Stephen was harshly judged on probably a poor 10 minutes in the whole year,” he said. “He’s changed the game of Gaelic football so he’s probably one that missed out.”

Interestingly, Connolly said he had no memory of being struck “about six times” before the ball was thrown-in to start a Championship game last summer, a claim made by Dublin chief executive John Costello in his annual report.

“Not that I remember anyway,” responded Connolly.

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