I recently attended a briefing in Croke Park on the new rules and protocols that the GAA have introduced. It was a worthwhile and informative exercise, conducted by Pat Doherty and Fergal McGill from HQ. Naturally, the focus was on the Black Card and it was expertly explained and demonstrated by way of video and Powerpoint.
They touched on some stats too from the NFL that highlighted the increased scoring returns and what counties had amassed the black cards. Surprisingly Dublin registered zero, a pat on the back for their tackling coaches.
However, there was a deeper piece of analysis required but on the day that was in it I stayed clear of any controversy or the possibility of inflicting discomfort on our guests.
But here’s the analysis that we all need to know: forget who got the cards, find out who did NOT get cards when they should have. That was always going to be the crux of the matter and of the 10 or so NFL matches I attended I was aware that at least one per game was being avoided.
The only surprise about the black cards last weekend was that the major screw up came from our top referee Dave Coldrick (Meath). His senior moment’ arrived in the first half of Tyrone v Down when a pull down that will surely feature in the next DvD as the classic example of the black card went unpunished. Throw in the non-use of the advantage rule and you are left scratching your head.
Tyrone management and players were quick to pounce on the mistake but conveniently side-stepped other matters that went their way.
It is the first round and I have no doubt these inconsistencies will be ironed out but Pat Doherty and Co. will have to make sure the creases are removed. Immediately.