McCarthy: It's time to sin-bin the black card
James McCarthy has joined the growing clamour of players, past and present, calling for reform of the black card rule.
The Dublin wing-back, controversially banished after 25 minutes of the drawn All-Ireland SFC final following an off-the-ball collision with Mayo's Cillian O'Connor, would prefer to see the black card replaced by a ten-minute 'sin bin'.
Describing his own experience as a "complete nightmare", McCarthy commented: "The idea of the black card is right, to try and stop that cynical fouling. But it's the way it's being implemented - it's just very inconsistent. One moment you're put off for something that's barely a free, and the next moment some guys are getting away with cynical fouls.
"I personally think there should be a better way of dealing with it. I think a sin-bin might be a good way of doing it. Gone down to 14 men for ten minutes in a big game - that's a pretty big punishment for a team."
Nor was McCarthy against the idea of using a TMO to adjudicate on big calls.
"Thirty seconds it takes to go to a TV match official, that's another option as well. Especially for decisions that are not clearcut. You see the rugby is very quick, they are on the ear piece and get the call very quick. So I think that's definitely another way to go," he suggested.
Overall, he would prefer the less card-happy approach favoured by hurling referees.
"The two Waterford-Kilkenny games were some of the best games I watched all year. The ref kind of just let them at it nearly," he recalled.
"The game is not getting broken up. Every great game, there is a flow to it. When you have whistles blown for ten minutes to deal with yellow cards, I think it makes a mess of it. Obviously you need some sort of cards as punishment but, if teams were allowed to go at it more, I think everybody would be happy."
Perhaps more than any Dub, McCarthy had reason to be half-relieved when their All-Ireland went to a replay.
"Bad things come in three, as they say," muses the powerhouse wing-back, reflecting on the medial ligament injury to his knee that sidelined him for the Westmeath and Donegal games; the shoulder collision (against Kerry) that seriously curtailed his training schedule for the final; and then finally his All-Ireland black.
His initial reaction? "Just distraught," he recounts. "You're kind of going 'I'm not going to get a break this year'. I thought it was very harsh, I thought it was a very soft black card. I was just angry initially."
Asked if some of that anger was directed towards O'Connor, McCarthy replied: "In the heat of the moment I was thick. I might have felt he went down probably a bit easier than he could. I don't know how many times in a game where guys crash into each other like that. It's just part of the game. You get on with it.
"It wasn't Cillian that gave me the black card, in fairness. We did clash fairly hard and one of us would have went down. I think it was the linesman that called it in the end."
Watching on for the remainder, McCarthy experienced mixed emotions. "We were in a position to win it, and we didn't. Obviously you're thinking 'At least I have a chance to play the next day'. So, kind of weird emotions after it," he admitted.
"I felt I owed the team a big enough performance (in the replay), so on a personal level I was really driven for that game."