GAA president O’Neill backs use of black card in hurling
Disciplinary sanction will come into effect in football games from next month
GAA president Liam O’Neill has strongly endorsed the black card sanction, which comes into effect in football next month, as equally applicable to hurling
GAA president Liam O’Neill has strongly endorsed the black card sanction, which comes into effect in football next month, as equally applicable to hurling.
Speaking to media at the end of this year’s trip to Shanghai by the GAA-GPA All Stars, sponsored by Opel, the president said, however, that he didn’t see the initiative as being acceptable yet to the hurling counties.
“I’d love to see it come into hurling, yeah, and I don’t fear it coming into hurling. I don’t see why we should allow people to deliberately pull down in hurling either or deliberately body collide or deliberately trip, so I would see them coming in for all.
“I’m not quite sure of the pace of it,” he replied, when asked about when this might happen.
“I wish counties and clubs would see the benefit of it themselves but I don’t mind that a committee we picked for football gets it done because they couldn’t get it done the last time because hurling said ‘no’.”
This was a reference to a bundle of rule changes similar to those adopted at this year’s congress in Derry – except that they applied to both football and hurling – which were narrowly defeated at the Cork congress of 2009 because of the reservations of hurling counties.
This experience convinced O’Neill, who had been chairman of the task force that had drawn up the 2009 proposals, to appoint the football review committee, which successfully piloted disciplinary reforms exclusively for football. That, according to the president, was just the start.
“The previous time when the vote came, hurling said ‘no’. The stronger hurling counties came together and it was beaten in 2009, so I was happy to go the football route on it with a view to getting it started.
“Change is a process. A person said to me that sometimes you can only be an agent for change and that’s what someone like a president there for three years can be.
“You can be an agent for change but you can’t expect that everything you think you are going to do at the start you will finish; but if you start the process that brings it about, then you have been some use. I see our role as presidents in that we start a process.
“There was a very definite move in Nickey Brennan’s time to move the yellow card experiment, but it was beaten in his time at congress and when Christy Cooney took over, there was a three-year period where he said he didn’t want it revisited again.
“We were asked to stay quiet about it (O’Neill’s task force was requested to stop issuing bulletins of foul play statistics during the 2009 championship) and that was his three years, but immediately I got in I saw a need to review it and set up a football review to do it and we have done that.”
Asked about the high-profile rugby tackle by Tyrone’s Seán Cavanagh on Conor McManus during the All-Ireland quarter-final with Monaghan, the president rejected the idea that the foul had been the biggest showcase for the new black card.
“I think that there was a lot of focus on Cavanagh and I think it was unfair: there were a lot of other pull-downs during the year that were equally as bad. Unfortunately, his seemed to get focus and that happens sometimes. I was sorry for him; he is one of the greatest Gaelic footballers we have ever had.”