The title of the February blog sounds like a piece of graffiti, doesn’t it?… But no, it is more about some of the regulations that govern our national games. One of which affects hurling also and being from Kilkenny, Hurling still rules! Smiley face.
Firstly, that Black Card! What a unnecessary addition to the rule book it was. Again, at the weekend, I was watching the Mayo v Galway National league tie on TG4. Yes, Kilkenny people do have an interest in Gaelic Football. It was a great start to the game with one of the best ever goals scored by Mayo’s James Carr. It was fast and open and end to end. Very entertaining. Then after about fifteen minutes, Galway who were leading by one point had a player black carded. Rightly so based on the rules. This was followed by ten minutes of drivel. Boring, slow, possession football. Of course, then there was the minimum touch of a player to give away a free and goodness knows you’d think the player was lucky to be alive as he killed the elapsed time for his team. Yes, brilliantly controlled by Galway, but in my opinion the game never recovered to the entertaining levels that it had started with.
All Gaelic Football Managers know now what to do when their team is ahead and one of their players is black carded for the requisite ten minutes. It’s no longer a surprise. Their job is to win the game and they are not breaking any rules. Morally its terrible. Entertainment wise it is horrible in the extreme, though they would argue they are not there to entertain. The fee paid on the gate would suggest otherwise. There has to be some onus to entertain the paying customer. Players are coached to manage the game in this way should the black card occur. Personally, I couldn’t say I wouldn’t do it, but to put the moral pressure on a player is a big call. A player who is a winner and wants to deliver as many top plays as possible and top it with scores. It is a dilemma for the purist who are there to enjoy the sport in a free flowing style. It is not really sporting but it can be the prudent thing to do to win the game. Does morals or intelligence supersede?
Take the Black Card out of the equation and give a Yellow Card for the offence. I don’t believe you would have the same result as the yellow card only affects the culprit. The game would still flow. The Black Card was introduced to wipe out cynicism in the game especially in the dying moments. We all remember the infamous Sean Kavanagh (Tyrone) incident. However, in my opinion, the black card was not needed, there was enough in Yellow and red. It was just adding another layer of complexity to the already over worked official’s roster. The only thing that needed to be added was that if, in the view of the referee, it is a goalscoring opportunity, it should be an automatic red. If it was a point scoring opportunity, yellow would be sufficient, because you’d expect handing the ball to your dedicated free taker without someone trying to stop them would be a better guarantee than any other player or the free taker themselves being tackled. If it was a second offence, it is automatically red. The punishments were there and less likely to disrupt a very good match and teams could still be reduced but game management becomes a bigger challenge when it is permanent. As it is, the reward of punishing someone with a black card is now the punishment of the paying patrons as they endure poppycock football while the team game manage for 10 minutes. But lets spare a thought for the player who takes the soft hit that almost kills him during that period. He took it for the team, but forever should be remembered as “soft”.
The other issue which has got a lot of social media airtime in the last week or two was the final moments of the All-Ireland Club football final between Kilmacud Crokes and Glen. Last ’45 of the game for Glen. Kilmacud lead by two points. Kilmacud bring on two substitutes but only one player comes off leaving sixteen players defending. The ’45 is taken and successfully defended. The whistle blows. Kilmacud lift the cup, but everyone is immediately aware of an issue involving player numbers albeit too late to rectify withing the confines of the match.
Whether the blame lies with the officials, the Kilmacud management or the Kilmacud player who did not leave the field of play. It is irrelevant. A rule is broken! Blame does not matter, even less than had the goalkeeper made a howler to concede a goal. The rule in this case is straightforward, you cannot have more than fifteen players on the pitch.
The punishment is one of three options. Firstly, a fine. This was never going to be an option for Kilmacud who are seen as a huge club with huge resources. A fact that was not hidden during earlier controversial transfer issues, which to be fair is irrelevant also, although it does affect public sentiment, especially rural teams. Next there was forfeit the game. This was in my opinion and in many others, too much on the basis of the crime. This only left the middle ground of a replay. If Kilmacud officials left Croke Park after the game and did not realise this was a very strong possibility under the circumstances, then they are guilty of not familiarising themselves with the rules and consequences of the game. I very much doubt this is the case. It was not a surprise to anyone, the course of events.
Most social media “experts” (amazing how many of them want to highlight their ignorance) are giving out about the length of time it took to rule on a replay. Once the game was ended by the referee, due process kicks in. GAA rules kick in and again every club official in the country understands the process, or should do. Glen was given time to gather information and decide a course of action. The GAA authorities had to wait and follow the process which is akin to a legal process. When the ruling was made, the same curtesy is given to Kilmacud Crokes to counter the ruling. Like every legal process it is a laborious process. However, it is a process aimed at fair play in light of unfortunate circumstances. The vast majority of GAA administrators who work night and day for the organisation understand the process as well as many true GAA supporters. The social media “experts” should expend their energy more productively in becoming administrators to appreciate the process rather than ranting embarrassingly. Especially the ones who tell what they’d do with their ”medal”. Seriously! What are the chances? Wonderful Imagination as well.
It is unfortunate, but blame does not come into it. It happened and action has to happen. Will Glen want a replay and the possibility of being beaten a second time? Will Crokes want a replay and the possibility of not winning within the rules? Only they know. The circumstances suggest they both need to do it again to exercise the ghosts and hopefully, the winners this time, can enjoy guilt free celebrations.
Sport is behaving in a good or specified way in response to teasing, defeat, or a similarly trying situation. Sometimes people forget about sport when it comes to gathering roll of honour listings. Let’s remember GAA is sport.
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