GAA officials will not be resurrecting the ‘sinbin’ experiment as efforts are made to draw up a new and improved list of experimental rules for next year’s Congress.
The Association’s annual get-together in Cork last weekend saw the proposals drawn up by Liam O’Neill’s task force receive support from 64% of delegates which left them eight votes short of the two-thirds majority required.
Few expected the call to be so close after a number of leading managers, as well as the vast majority of the Gaelic Players Association’s (GPA’s) membership, rejected the temporary strictures.
Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody spoke for many when he talked about a player who could hypothetically receive a yellow card and be sidelined after just minutes of a provincial or All-Ireland final for a foul that was more clumsy than cynical.
However, that fear wasn’t repeated at Congress. “Nobody stood up and said that the punishments were out of proportion to the infractions,” said Head of Games Pat Daly last night. “The principle is a strong principle. Some people have argued: ‘Why not the sinbin?’ and that has been discussed at length.
“The sinbin is fine for rugby as a game and as a culture and there may well come a time when it is suitable in GAA. But not now. The fact is that referees at junior level would be unable to operate it.”
The public misgivings of various managers was central to the ‘sinbin’ experiment failing in 2005 but Daly believes that the role of managers was less pivotal on this occasion.
There were, he said, two more central reasons for the rules’ defeat.
“Number one was that we have to allay the fears of junior clubs. There seemed to be strong resistance at that level.
“The second fear that the counties had was that the required level of consistency might not have been forthcoming from referees but we are happy we can allay those fears. Once we can do that we will get the required level of support.”
The bottom line going forward is that there are likely to be only minor tweaks made to the proposals when they are brought back for Congress’ consideration in 12 months’ time.
All the public utterances from President Christy Cooney and Director General Páraic Duffy suggest a belief that new disciplinary parameters will be in place sooner or later and Daly rejected the suggestion yesterday that Saturday’s result had somehow ‘failed’ its members.
“I don’t think so because thepresident Christy Cooney has already given a commitment that the rules will be revisited and I think we have raised the level of awareness. There is a consciousness there now that wasn’t in the past.
“I think people did see the benefit, they did see the merit and value of taking these highly disruptive fouls as they were classified out of the game that we would have a far better and more enjoyable game and a far safer game. I think that was a major step forward.”
The breakdown of votes has also raised many eyebrows, particularly outside the confines of the dedicated GAA community where the concept of a majority view being insufficient for change is more difficult to comprehend.
Daly rejected accusations that the ‘two-thirds’ rule is outdated.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it is. It is a difficult assignment for anybody to get two-thirds of a majority. It is a big number of votes involved and it finished 177 to 100. One would actually think that was a mandate for change but that is how democracy works. We are democrats and we have to accept that.”
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