GAA Football

No appetite to introduce sin-bin for black card offences: Jarlath Burns

Jarlath Burns (centre) does not believe a sin-bin is a workable solution where the black card is concerned
Neil Loughran

THERE is “no appetite” to introduce a sin-bin for black card offences, according to the chairman of the GAA’s standing playing rules committee.

With the controversial ruling the subject of scrutiny throughout the summer, one suggestion is that players could be sent to a sin-bin for 10 minutes when the black card is brandished, rather than being substituted and missing the rest of the game.

However, Jarlath Burns does not believe this is a workable solution, and has leapt to the defence of the black card after some high-profile incidents towards the end of the Championship.

The former Armagh midfielder headed up a meeting of the standing playing rules committee on Tuesday night, and said the body was “not of a mind to change any aspect of the black card at the moment”.

The Silverbridge man said: “A sin-bin is dead on in Croke Park where you have a top quality referee, two inter-county referees watching the game on the sideline, and four really good, consistent umpires.

“But what if you have two division four teams on a wet Tuesday night playing a game somewhere? Or a division two under 16 game? We have to make sure we don’t have one rule for the county game and one rule for the club game – we want to maintain consistency throughout the association.

“I don’t want to go into the specifics of what we discussed [at the meeting], but there is no appetite within the standing playing rules committee to do anything regarding that.

“It is important, in the initial years of the black card, that we allow it to bed into the culture of the association before we start tinkering with sanctions.”

The black card was introduced in January 2014 to combat cynicism in Gaelic football, but there have been question marks over the consistency of its application in the time since.

Burns insists the sanction has been of huge benefit to Gaelic football, despite the tendency to “focus on the negative element of it”.

“I am a very, very strong defender of the black card rule – all aspects of it. I would not be advocating, as chair of that committee, any change whatsoever to that rule.

“I would base that on the very simple statistics that, on ever single metric you contest the black card on, average scores are up, total aggregate score per game is up 10 per cent, number of goals per game is up 25 per cent, number of points per game is up 7.5 per cent and the number of frees awarded is down 13 per cent.”

A lack of understanding, Burns feels, has contributed to criticism of the black card, but he doesn’t believe there is a pressing need to re-educate referees in how it should be used.

He added: “A black card is for body-checking, tripping, deliberately pulling to the ground, dissent towards the referee or for sledging another player – that’s five things. “You don’t need any extra training, you don’t need to be a genius in the rules to understand that particular rule is easy to read, interpret and apply.

“Some of the problem with the black card is that some people don’t actually understand what the black card is for.

“There will be individuals who will rail against it, many of whom are doing it on the basis of watching Robbie Kiely walking off or Lee Keegan walking off – and that’s a very sad thing to see – but they haven’t done any research, they haven’t got the figures or statistics.

“They have no evidence base at all on which to back up their own opinion.”

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GAA Football