Dublin captain Eoghan O'Donnell believes the proposed tweak to hurling's black card/penalty rule makes sense but has warned there 'can't be any room for ambiguity' regarding its implementation.
A foul that denies a goalscoring opportunity, and which occurs inside the 20-metre line, is currently punished with a penalty for the attacking team while the player who has committed the foul is shown a black card and ordered off for 10 minutes.
O’Donnell’s Dublin were twice caught out in their recent Allianz League clash with Waterford, conceding two penalties which were converted and losing two separate players for 10 minutes each.
Motion 27 for this Saturday’s Congress recommends that the current trial be made permanent and proposes a refinement to what constitutes a goalscoring opportunity, directing that the foul must not occur within 25 metres of either sideline.
It's a clear response to the incident in last year's Munster championship when Tipperary were awarded a penalty for a foul by Clare's Aidan McCarthy on Jake Morris close to the left sideline which was deemed a goalscoring opportunity.
“From a common sense point of view, that makes sense,” said O’Donnell of the proposed change when speaking at Dublin GAA sponsors AIG’s launch of its #EffortisEqual campaign.
“I remember the incident against Clare and I remember looking at it and I remember thinking it was a difficult circumstance. Clare obviously would have felt they were aggrieved at the time but it was a difficult one.”
Yet O’Donnell is concerned about how referees will judge what is and isn’t 25 metres from a sideline. The wording of the proposal is that the new area to be governed under the rule should be ‘inside the 20-metre line but as a “rule of thumb” not within 25 metres infield of each sideline’.
“Sure as we’ve seen even for penalties that have a defined box, sometimes they can be very difficult to read whether it was inside or outside,” said O’Donnell.
“The repercussions for these decisions are massive for lads that are putting their whole careers, all their training and working so hard on the line so, for me, if a referee is going to send a player off for 10 minutes and award a team a penalty, you’d want to be fairly sure of the situation surrounding it and there can’t be any room for ambiguity in whatever decision they come to.”
O’Donnell and Dublin will be in Thurles on Saturday with the Walsh Cup winners set to put their virtually perfect 2022 record on the line in round three of the Allianz League.
They’ve won five of their six competitive games so far this year, drawing with Waterford, and will leapfrog Tipp into top spot in Division 1B if they win.
O’Donnell is enthused about Dublin’s progress and puts it down partly to having a full and uninterrupted pre-season.
“We’re a team that’s kind of in the pack, journeying along,” said O’Donnell. “It [the pandemic] didn’t suit as much, we needed a lot of work done. Covid obviously didn’t suit anybody, but it less impacted teams that already had their style of play together. For us, to really nail down a routine has been massively beneficial.”
Manager Mattie Kenny has handed game time to 34 different players this year.
"The likes of Aidan Mellett, Colin Currie and Andrew Dunphy are trying to nail down regular spots and that level of competition is what we need to get to the next level," said O'Donnell.
Dublin beat Tipperary the last time the counties met in the league in Thurles, in the 2019 quarter-finals.
But their overall record at Semple Stadium is poor with just three wins from 10 games there over the last decade.
Their last two trips to Tipp were both for championship encounters against Cork in 2020 and 2021, which they lost.
“I think this is a new Dublin team and we are trying to put our own stamp on things so what happened in the past is not a massive reflection on us going forward,” said O’Donnell.