O’Neill wants hurling black card

GAA President Liam O’Neill has expressed his desire for the black card to be introduced to hurling.

O’Neill believes the black card will serve for the betterment of Gaelic football when instituted next year, adding the same rule should apply in hurling when dealing with fouls of a cynical nature.

“I’d love to see it come into hurling and I don’t fear it coming into hurling,” O’Neill said yesterday.

“I don’t see why in hurling we should allow people to deliberately pull down, or deliberately body collide, or deliberately trip so I would see them coming in for all. I’m not quite sure of the pace of it. I wish counties and clubs would see the benefit of it themselves.

“I don’t mind we picked for football to get the black card introduced first, because they couldn’t get it done the last time in hurling as it was rejected. The last time when the vote came hurling said no. The stronger hurling counties came together and it was beaten in 2009 so I was happy to go the football route on it with a view to getting it started.

“There was a very definite move in Nicky Brennan’s time to move the yellow card experiment and it was beaten at congress. When Christy Cooney took over there was a three year period where he said he didn’t want it revisited again. We were asked to stay quiet about it. Immediately when I got in I saw a need to review it and we have done that.”

The Laois native said far too much emphasis was placed on “Cavanagh-hand” as incidences of cynical fouling were rife throughout the 2013 championship. “There were a lot of other pull downs during the year equally as bad. I was sorry for Sean as he is one of the greatest Gaelic footballers we have ever had. Sometimes a foul stands out just because people comment on it. I think football this year was great and it could be even better with these rules.

“If we punish players for bad language to fellow players or referees we will tackle low level abuse because I have always felt low level abuse being tolerated opens up a conduit through which greater stuff can flow. If we nip it in the bud it will do that.”

The rule surrounding the taking of a 20-metre free is another area currently under the microscope of GAA top brass, with O’Neill claiming the proposed change is necessary if a players safety is to be catered for.

“What we are trying to do is bring about a situation where you can place the ball anywhere you like inside the D but you must strike it from outside 20 metres,” he said. “It wasn’t an Anthony Nash thing. There is a clash of rules. You have a goalkeeper who is to be 20 metres from goal when he hits it and the defender then has to be 20 metres away from the ball. Quite clearly that was not happening. There is a safety concern about a ball striking a player on the chest that could have serious consequences and while we protect the face we can’t protect the full body.”

Cork custodian Anthony Nash is not convinced; however, believing the proposed change will lead to a substantial rise in number of fouls.

“If the free-taker is permitted to strike from the 21-yard line and not closer, you can be guaranteed there will be more fouls,” asserted the All Star goalkeeper. “If you have a fella one-on-one with you 13 yards out and you have a choice of fouling him or having a shot with three fellas on the line from 21 yards, you are automatically going to foul. I don’t see what is wrong with the rule just because I scored one or two goals. I missed many as well. I wouldn’t consider it a rule changing kind of thing.”

Several counties expressed frustration at Dublin’s recent AIG sponsorship deal – worth in the region of €2m — and while O’Neill knocked the idea of mandatory shared sponsorship, he called on counties to pool their resources to secure greater packages.

“I made a very definite statement when that AIG deal came out it was better Dublin were getting this money than not getting it. Now, that was interpreted by some, somehow we were going to spread sponsorship, to share sponsorship, no, but I could see a situation where two or three counties regionally could possibly do better with a joint bid for sponsorship than they might do by going individually. I’d be very open to that.”


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