FRC’s Scullion brushes off high profile critics of black card

Football Review Committee (FRC) member Tony Scullion said he has no inclination of getting into a war of words with critics of the black card.

Mickey Harte had a thinly-veiled dig at the FRC on Sunday, while Louth manager Aidan O’Rourke described the Congress vote as a “victory for the meddlers” and “the little to be ats who never coach”.

Scullion is satisfied enough in the battle having being won to convince GAA delegates of the proposal to curb cynicism in Gaelic football. However, he readily dismissed their criticism of the successful FRC recommendation.

“I don’t want to give it any thought, I don’t want to go into the negative things,” said Scullion. “In Derry, in my own county, the event was such a tremendous credit, the way the whole thing was presented. I don’t, now after such a positive weekend, want to get involved with what has been said. I’m not interested in people who are making these comments, especially those making statements in public.

“They’re entitled to their opinion but the people had their chance to speak on Saturday and they voted.”

Scullion, who spoke passionately at Congress in favour of the black card, was disappointed with the defeat of the mark and ‘13 to 30 metres’ ball brought forward motions.

“We lost both narrowly and them two would have definitely helped the game. We had motions well beaten [clean pick-up and increase of adult club games to 70 minutes] but they only failed by a little margin.”

Fermanagh manager Peter Canavan also felt the ‘13 to 30 metres’ motion would have helped cut cynicism but doubts the black card will do the same.

“I don’t think it’s a move in the right direction at all,” said the Tyrone legend. “I cannot believe the hype and the pleas that surrounded getting this black card through.

“Cynical play will remain. If teams want to prevent teams attacking them, or they want to run down the last five minutes of a game, they’re still going to pull players down. If it means being sent off and another man coming on, they’re still going to do it.”

Canavan, who like Cork manager Conor Counihan believes the black card will add to the pressure on referees, said: “I applaud the work that has gone into this and any rule that is trying to improve our game, you have to consider it and look at it. But I am disappointed. I don’t think it’s going to add to our game as much as these experts think it will.”

Scullion’s fellow FRC member Paul Earley clarified any player adjudged to have committed a black card offence following a yellow card will be issued with a red card and sent off without replacement.

Some referees at club level have already expressed uncertainty at the rule, although the GAA will soon embark on a major training campaign to ensure all match officials are aware of the rule changes.

Meanwhile, FRC chairman Eugene McGee has given some insight into how they had planned their charm offensive at Congress in Derry on Saturday.

He said: “We had hand-picked five of them to give a broad spectrum and made sure we finished with [former GAA president] Joe McDonagh.

“You had to think after the fifth or sixth speaker for us, how could you knock it down?

“With all those speakers, how could you justify it to your friends?”


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