Tougher sanctions possible for diving, warns Aogán Ó Fearghail

GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail is open to the idea of the punishment for diving being upgraded from a yellow to a black or red card.

While insisting simulation is not a major issue, he said acts like Tiernan McCann’s against Monaghan have “nothing to do with the physical manliness of Gaelic games”. “It’s in the opposite space, so I would have no sympathy for that type of behaviour. Whatever is a stern reprimand for it, I would agree with. I haven’t thought it through what grade of card it should be.”

Ó Fearghail expects all his games committees, including the standing playing rules group chaired by Jarlath Burns, to study the season and come back with recommendations if required.

“I’ve told our chairmen that at the end of the playing season, I intend to review with them what they have been doing and working on. If a chair of any committee isn’t reviewing what’s happening, I would never be comfortable.”

The Cavan man maintains the black card is “a good tool” for referees and felt Maurice Deegan had “a good game” in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final, despite making a couple of errors in the application of the black card. “You’d be wrong to say that everything’s perfect in anything. But I would think that it is improving and referees… I believe strongly in research and training. I think the whole education and training of referees is improving. But it has to continue to improve. And it is unfortunate that calls are wrong. And referees will admit that themselves. If they do get a call wrong, they know it themselves.”

He added: “When you have a physical sport like ours, that’s a judgment call, and that judgment call has to be made fairly quickly. I think referees get it right most of the time. We see it in other sports where they have more monitoring of what’s happening. They still get judgments wrong.”

However, former Mayo footballer Conor Mortimer has questioned why referees are continuing to be appointed for big games when they have been making serious mistakes.

“You have two linesmen, four umpires and yourself and none of them can see something in front of them. It’s nonsense. All that McCann stuff, the GAA aren’t looking at the bigger picture. Marty Duffy was standing in front of it. He needs to make that call. He didn’t make the call. The GAA should be on top of him, not the player. You make a decision like that in the Premier League and you don’t get a game for three weeks. It has to be stamped out.”

Meanwhile, Ó Fearghail responded to claims by Limerick that a vote on the structure of the national league was brought forward without notice at last month’s Central Council meeting.

“I think what Limerick thought was of their own position. The final letter, when sent out, reminded the counties that we would be taking final decisions in November, which we will, we have decided on Division 1 and 2. Limerick probably forgot that there is a Division 3 and 4 also. Those counties are equally important for hurling.”

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