Malachy O’Rourke has called for greater consistency from match officials and wants to see weaker teams treated the same as those competing in an All-Ireland final.
The Monaghan boss is concerned referees will flash cards in the early rounds of the championship but that those same misdemeanours will escape punishment later in the summer when the big teams hit Croke Park.
O’Rourke, whose team begins the Ulster SFC campaign against Cavan on Sunday, does not think the introduction of a black card was necessary and says the rules must be implemented fairly across the board.
“If the rules are going to be applied, no matter what position teams are in the ranking, they should apply to everyone equally.
“That is the most frustrating thing I would see. I would have felt before the black card that the rules of the game were grand, as long as it was refereed right, and that whatever an official saw, they acted upon it.
“But I still think it will come to a stage where you will see people getting black cards and getting sent-off in the early rounds of the championship involving games with some of the so-called lesser teams.
“And those same incidents will not be dealt with the equivalent card — be it black, yellow or red — when games get to Croke Park and the latter stages of the Championships.
“Officials have to be very consistent and if it is a black card, then it is a black card for everyone.”
O’Rourke cited the example of Down fullback Benny McArdle who was harshly sent-off against Roscommon in the Division Two league final for two yellow cards, only to have his dismissal rescinded by the Central Hearings Committee.
“Can you see someone being sent off in a high profile game, an All-Ireland semi-final or final for that? Not a chance, in my book.
“There was a time when I felt that two referees would have made it easier but if all the officials are properly utilised, linesmen and umpires, then I don’t think there is anything wrong with the rules.
“I don’t think there is a need for the black card. If everyone did their job, the game would have been fine the way it was.”
Having contested the last two Ulster finals, winning one and losing one, and reaching the division one league semi-final this year, Monaghan are perceived as favourites heading to Kingspan Breffni Park. It’s a situation that suits Cavan perfectly, and O’Rourke knows it.
“We have no control over that. We just have to concentrate on what is in front of us. “It is not really any more pressure, because we know what we have to do.
“The boys have played Cavan often enough in the past and they know that if they play to their ability, they can beat Cavan.
“They know that if they don’t, they won’t beat them. So it is simple enough equation for us.”
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