Advent of black card results in more scores and less fouling

Survey of league data suggests introduction of new card has proven beneficial to Gaelic football

Referee Marty Duffy shows David Hyland of Kildare a black card. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Referee Marty Duffy shows David Hyland of Kildare a black card. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho


The GAA have welcomed data from the current football league that indicates an increase in scoring and a reduction in the number of cards issued by referees.

The study was undertaken to assess the early impact of the newly introduced black card, which is shown for five categories of cynical fouling and requires the offending player to be replaced.

Evidence shows that the black-card average is running at less than one per match and that the issuing of cards of any colour has decreased dramatically, from an average of 8.32 per match to 4.39. Average scoring per match has risen by 10 per cent.

“Of course we’re happy with the initial findings,” was the reaction of Feargal McGill, the GAA’s head of games administration and player welfare. “We’re not patting ourselves on the back because we’re also mindful that we haven’t seen any championship yet and that would be expected to have just that bit more cut and thrust.

“I also think that there’s still confusion out there about what is and what isn’t a black card. My personal experience judging by reactions at matches is that there’s a perception it’s somewhere between a yellow and red. I’ve heard people complain when a black card is shown that it ‘wasn’t that bad a tackle’”

McGill admits that he was taken aback at the overall reduction in cards and speculates that the black card environment has discouraged all fouling.

“I think so and that was a large part of the FRC (Football Review Committee, which formulated the idea) thesis.

“If they could get cynical fouls isolated and out of the way, that there’d be a knock-on effect. I’d have to say that I’m surprised by that – but delighted.”

The statistics also show that the number of scores recorded during league matches has risen by 40 per cent in the last 20 years.

Full statistical report on

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