Munster’s national referees committee representative, Willie Barrett, maintains yellow and red cards must be retained in hurling as they are integral to the understanding of the game.
The former inter-county referee, one of Pat McEnaney’s chief advisors, looks forward to the debate proposed by GAA president Liam O’Neill on the game.
Among the subject that will be debated include the eradication of yellow and red cards as proposed by Kilkenny great Eddie Keher and endorsed by manager Brian Cody.
Keher believes dangerous play should result in a player being warned and having his name taken, while a player who deliberately strikes an opponent with the hurley be sent off with no need for a card in either instance. But Barrett, who refereed both before and after cards were introduced to Gaelic games in 1999, is of the mind that cards are distinguishable indications of sanctioning.
“I believe the cards are necessary and would certainly be in favour of their retention,” said the Tipperary man, who took charge of the 1994 and 2000 finals.
“I think if a player gets a yellow card as compared to previously when he was sanctioned by way of a booking it’s clear to everyone the yellow is being given. The manager, the spectators and the player know they have done something to merit it.
“We shouldn’t close our mind to anything. It was interesting to see the president welcoming the debate. I’m sure Eddie would have thought long and hard about this and there is no issue with debate; one must respect the other person’s view. It’s part of the game and it’s good for the game.
“It’s fair to say the GAA is open to change, but it’s a different argument in reverting to when we had no cards. Both Brian and Eddie played when there were no cards and you can understand where they’re coming from as they did so playing at the highest level. But equally one has to view the game as it today.”
Cork would also appear to be in favour of Keher’s proposal, having passed a similarly-minded motion put forward by Christy Ring Jnr in 2009. As it was fashioned differently at Congress to how it passed at Cork’s annual convention, it was never voted on.
However, it was Ring Jnr’s assertion that some fouls have been upgraded to yellow card offences without changes to the rulebook and, as a result, traditional skills like legitimate doubling and connecting with the ball in flight or hitting the ball at close quarters to an opposing player were being considered as “careless use of the hurley”.
Along with Keher, Ring Jnr believes a free, considering it can be scored from a larger range than ever before, is an adequate penalty for a technical foul.
However, Barrett suggest there may be some confusion on what actually merits a yellow card. “Technical fouls are not yellow cards. A second noting infraction is a yellow card and perhaps some people might think the card is being issued for just one technical foul.
“It’s an attempt to cut out persistent fouling in the game and what we are trying to do is ensure there’s as much of a free-flowing game as possible. When we talk about the game of hurling, in fairness to the referees they’re abiding by what’s in the rulebook as regards sanctioning.”
As for whether there could be a compromise on the definition a yellow card offence, Barrett said: “A change to what earns a yellow card would automatically require a change of rule.
“Eddie has produced a document and clearly has backed up his views with comment, but when you’re looking at the yellow cards, one has to say the card is there for a reason and if the lads think different then we can debate it.” Barrett supports the motion that goes forward to next month’s Congress calling for the public clock/hooter to be extended to the hurling championship on top of the football competition.
“I wouldn’t like to prejudge what happens at Congress but I do think the clock has a place in the GAA. It’s in for football and hopefully it’s something that might be looked at for hurling now.
“It has worked well in ladies football and everyone has a clear indication of what time is remaining taking into account the different interruptions. Like Hawk-Eye, it’s technology that has to be welcomed.”
Barrett, unlike McEnaney, is against the advantage rule being introduced to hurling as it has been to football this year.
“I wouldn’t be a lover of the five-second rule. I think the game of hurling is too quick a game for it to brought in.”
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