Earley says black card need not compromise good defending

Proposer of reform says fouls not tackles will be punished by new disciplinary measures

Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea is shown a black card by referee Rory Hickey during last weekends Allianz Football League Division 1 clash at St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea is shown a black card by referee Rory Hickey during last weekends Allianz Football League Division 1 clash at St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

Paul Earley

Reaction to the first round of fixtures in the AFL suggested that the card – intended to discourage cynical play by requiring an offending player to leave the field and be replaced – had had an impact on defenders, making them more wary of committing such fouls

Accepting that the statistics after one round of the league are far from conclusive it was interesting none the less that scoring showed a noticeable increase across the four divisions on the opening weekend last year. The total scores for the league this time around were 37-410 whereas 12 months ago the comparable figure was 29-373, a difference of eight goals and 37 points. Only Division Three recorded a decrease in goals, from nine to two. All other divisions registered an increase: Divisions One from nine to 10; Two from seven to 12 and Four from four to 13.

Expansive game
“I was at Croke Park on Saturday night for Dublin and Kerry and in Newbridge the following afternoon for Kildare and Mayo. You have to take into account that teams tend to follow the trends of successful counties and Dublin played a more expansive game last year.”

He is unimpressed by complaints from some managers, including Mayo’s James Horan, that backs are apprehensive about tackling in case they get a black card.

“I saw some great tackling and fantastic defending on Saturday, especially from Kerry and no body colliding. I can’t remember the last time Dublin didn’t break double figures for points. When managers say that players are afraid to tackle, I wonder does that actually mean they’re afraid to foul. It will be interesting to see if the trend continues.”

Meanwhile, the GAA has apologised for a data protection breach, which last week made available e-mail details and personal addresses of season ticket account holders to 223 of their fellow account holders.

According to a letter sent out to those potentially affected yesterday week: “The data was “temporarily available from 5.25 to 6.09 on Monday 27th January 2014 only. The error was immediately corrected once we became aware of it.”

GAA finance director Tom Ryan said the information was not financially sensitive but that any disclosure of personal details must be disclosed to the Data Protection Commissioner. “We’ve been liaising with the commissioner’s office,” he said, “and keeping them informed about the steps we’ve taken to address the matter and I think there’s acceptance that we’ve dealt with the matter appropriately.”