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Gavin: Bin foul play

JIM GAVIN feels the Football Review Committee's (FRC) decision to introduce a new black card doesn't go far enough in their ambition to banish cynical fouling from the game.

While broadly endorsing the FRC's proposals, set to be put before Congress in April and, if passed, introduced for the 2014 season, Gavin feels the adaptation of the sin bin into Gaelic football would serve as a much more effective mechanism in punishing cynicism.

"I met (FRC chairman) Eugene McGee over the Christmas break and we had a chat," explained Gavin. "I just wanted to see what his opinion on the FRC was and what the logic behind it was. They have put a load of hard work into it.

"I would like to see the sin bin come back into it, if I'm honest about it. I think it's probably the most punitive measure . . . the only way you can stop (cynical fouling) is to get the guy off the pitch and not replace him. I don't think what they are proposing is harsh enough.

"I know in '05 and '09 (when the sin bin was previously trialled) some managers kicked up and that was probably why it wasn't run with. But I would certainly go with the sin bin. It's the most punitive measure you can have on teams that are prepared to pull players down. There is only one way to deal with that -- get the guy off."

Gavin insisted that he accepted that the implementation of the sin bin would prove problematic at club and underage levels, and that the FRC were mindful of such issues in concocting the new black card rule which will see an offender replaced by a teammate upon transgression of the following rules.

(1) To deliberatively pull down an opponent. (2) To deliberately trip an opponent with hand, arm or foot. (3) To deliberately body collide with an opponent after he has played the ball away or for the purpose of taking him out of the movement of play. (4) To use abusive or provocative language or gestures towards players. (5) To remonstrate in an aggressive manner with a match official.

One of his selectors, Declan Darcy, was a member of the FRC during the inception of the new measures and Gavin singled out the new advantage rule as potentially one of the most effective in making football a more free-flowing spectacle.

"The referee is hamstrung at the moment," Gavin noted. "If he plays advantage and there is not a positive outcome, the play just continues. Whereas the FRC's recommendation that there is a five-second period where the referee can play advantage to see how it runs its course and it is not to the advantage of the player who is fouled, it's a free kick.

"They have lots of good ideas. But the theme of their work was to cut out cynical play and give back respect to referees and I couldn't but endorse all of that."

Of immediate concern for Gavin is Sunday's concluding O'Byrne Cup Group B fixture with Wicklow in Parnell Park, and though qualification for the semi-final is already assured, he appears to be approaching this one from the same platform as the previous two.

That is to say, a mixture of tactical and personnel experimentation will prevail over any need to extend their winning streak to three.

Gavin was particularly effusive in his praise for the players who have landed in his panel straight out of last year's minor team: Eric Lowndes, Davy Byrne and Shane Carthy.

"The guys -- as I call them -- the under-19s, they have done well so far," he insisted. "Their attitude is exemplary. I couldn't ask any more than what they're giving. But they will be going back to the under-21s very, very soon to prepare for that championship."

Gavin also insisted the roles of captain and regular free-taker were "up for grabs" between those currently involved in the auditioning process.


Five different players (Bernard Brogan, Diarmuid Connolly, Shane Carthy, Paul Hudson and Robbie McCarthy) shared Dublin's place-kicking responsibilities on Wednesday night and they have, in recent years, struggled to find a consistent left-footed taker outside of Stephen Cluxton, who tends only to venture forward for long-range frees.

"It's like everything in the squad," insisted Gavin. "It's all up for grabs. Those guys who perform in the various skill-sets -- be it long range free-taking or whatever -- those guys who are performing consistently come National League and come championship will get those jobs."

On the captaincy issue, Bernard Brogan became the third player to lead Dublin this year (after Diarmuid Connolly and Michael Darragh Macauley), and Gavin reiterated that he would continue to rotate the role right up until the championship.

He insisted, however, that the job remained a vital one.

"For me, it is. I want my captain to lead on the field of play. That's the bottom line," concluded Gavin.