GAA claim statistics prove success of black card
Record number of scores while the number of yellow cards brandished fell spectacularly this year
Dublin’s Bernard Brogan scores a goal against Monaghan. Dublin’s heavy scoring rate helped push up the overall total this summer. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Claiming the black card as an instant success, the GAA yesterday released statistics from this year’s football championship to support the effect of their newest disciplinary tool.
A record number of average scores (34.92 points) from 64 games is 9.5 per cent higher than the 2013 return of 32.05.
However, Dublin’s record -breaking summer of scoring must be factored into the increase.
Jim Gavin’s defending All-Ireland champions registered an astonishing 9-88 (115 points) in their first four matches for an average of 28.75 points per game. That dropped to 26.4 points after Donegal became the first team to keep them goalless (0-17) in the All-Ireland semi-final.
The number of yellow cards fell spectacularly from 420 over 61 championship matches in 2013 (average 6.89) to 217 (average 3.39) this year.
“All these figures are consistent with the trends witnessed in the Allianz leagues since the introduction of the black card,” read the GAA statement.
Double yellow cards dropped from 17 in 2013 to five while straight red cards went from 11 just four.
The 51 black cards, for an average of 0.8 per game, is also consistent with the National League figures.
There were five black cards shown over the three semi-finals and All-Ireland final. None occurred in the first half or the drawn match between Mayo and Kerry. Johnny Buckley’s in the final and Paddy McGrath’s against Dublin both came in injury time.
But former Armagh boss Paul Grimley is not persuaded by the GAA’s claims.
“It had nothing to do with the black card at all. The scoring averages were starting to increase anyway,” he said.
“I don’t understand how the black card can be deemed a success when it was so inconsistently applied during the championship,” claimed Grimley.
“Early in the championship referees were very stringent with it but later in the championship – in the quarter-finals, semis and final – it was ignored.
Grimley believes there is no long-term place in Gaelic football for the black card.
“I thought it was a total overreaction to punditry and people claiming the game needed to be cleaned up. I agree there were certain incidents, particularly in Croke Park, that were highlighted for cynical play but when you look at it overall the black card was a disproportionate reaction to a very, very small amount of cynical play.”
The Seán Cavanagh foul on Conor McManus in the 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final between Tyrone and Monaghan, when McManus was through on goal only to be rugby tackled, was the highest-profile incident Grimley referred to.
“We had referees in throughout the year speaking to us about cynical play and the messages they were giving us were conflicting,” Grimley claimed.
“If a player is bearing down on goal and is fouled it is a penalty. Simple. Or, surely, they can come up with a one on one situation.”
What about the red card in soccer as punishment for a ‘professional foul’?
“The ultimate penalty has to be looked at . . . . If they want to address something why don’t they address the tackle? Why don’t they come out and give one definition that everybody can relate to. If you go to referees you get contradictory feedback.”
Still the fact remains that 40 percent less cards were shown for disciplinary reasons in 2014.