Jim McGuinness concerned about effect of the black card
Donegal boss says new rule has created a fear factor among defenders
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness: “This is about football and it is about a big, big game for us.” Photograph: Russell Pritchard/Inpho/Presseye
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has raised concerns about the likely consequences of the black card in this year’s All-Ireland football championship. Like most managers, McGuinness is in full agreement with the theory behind the innovation but believes it has inhibited defenders from playing their natural game.
“It has created a fear in defenders, without question and it has helped teams in their ability to be more aggressive at running at defences,” he said at Donegal’s press event in Jackson’s Hotel on Saturday.
“It has tidied things up. But as a coach, going into a championship, you want to know where you stand. Defenders have been conditioned to play the game in a certain way and you can see them readjusting in the course of the tackle. They are afraid it a tackle is hard in terms of impact, that’s them gone.
“When we played against Armagh in my time playing; they would try to break you in a tackle if they got the chance. But most of it was very fair. There would be an odd missed tackle that didn’t look good. But it was hard and fair. I think it is becoming quite sanitised and that we are losing a bit of our indigenous approach. It is moving more towards a soccer approach with cards.”
Donegal visit Celtic Park on May 25th to play Derry is one of the showpiece games on the Ulster championship calendar. Both counties were defeated in the Division Two and One league finals respectively. Donegal’s defeat was quickly overshadowed by the news that Mark McHugh had decided to leave the panel, a development which, McGuinness noted, was portrayed as yet another major controversy for the county football squad.
“I am not going to go into the detail on it and I have dealt with it through the local paper. There is not much more to be said on it because we are preparing for a game and that is the most important thing. The game is now in full focus.
“There are four players and for different reasons they opted to step away. I think it is better to leave it at that because that becomes the story. This is about football and it is about a big, big game for us.”
McGuinness pointed out that before McHugh’s departure, the decision to defer club games within Donegal had been the subject of ongoing media scrutiny.
“There is an element of sensationalism around Donegal as well. Three of the boys left because they were not making the 26. And it was the same when there changes in the backroom team. I suppose it is trying to sell papers at the end of the day, to make a headline and I understand that but it does not happen in other counties the same way that it happens in Donegal.
“On the same weekend Monaghan called fixtures off and we were coming home from Portugal and it was a big sensational story on the Hogan Stand and the next story up on the Hogan Stand was Monaghan, but the context of it was buried that they had two rounds of fixtures and they were calling one off.
“The Derry players did not play that weekend and Dublin did not even make fixtures so it isn about the balance of that. Balance is all anyone wants and sometimes I don’t think that is there because if it is not sensational, it is not worth printing it in terms of Donegal.”