GAA Football

Black card penalty could lead to 'gamesmanship' if given green light warns Brendan Rogers

Derry full-back Brendan Rogers feels referees' decisions will come under even more scrutiny with further rule changes. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

DERRY full-back Brendan Rogers fears the proposed introduction of a penalty for denying a goalscoring opportunity in football and hurling could lead to an increase in “gamesmanship”.

The motion is part of a dual-code effort to cleanse deliberate attempts to deny goalscoring opportunities, and reads: “Cynical Behaviour is committed, on an attacking player with a goalscoring opportunity, either inside the 20-metre line or the semi-circular arc, a penalty kick shall be awarded to the team affected". There would also be a potential 10-minute sin-bin for the offender.

It is due to go before today’s remote Congress, although the Gaelic Player’s Association have asked that it was postponed until Special Congress later in the year.

Slaughtneil dual star Rogers normally wears number three in football but operates as a forward in hurling, so is open-minded about both sides of the debate.

He believes the introduction of a black card in hurling is unnecessary, and feels play-acting could become more prevalent in football should this motion get the go ahead.

“You kind of invite that… I think they call it gamesmanship,” he said.

“It won’t encourage the really theatrical stuff, I don’t think that element of the game is ever going to change, but sometimes it can be that the forward gets the benefit of the doubt. Maybe that’s me talking like a selfish defender.

“If a defender tries to make an honest tackle, doesn’t make it, then the forward goes down then it’s a black card. It’s a bit like the check, when you’re following a guy on the loop and he slips the guy and you get checked, it’s nothing. But if that was the other way around, you get a black card. So where does the benefit of the doubt lie there?

“The whole reason the black card was brought in was because one particular moment was highlighted, the Sean Cavanagh incident. That’s where it blew up.

“That was a cynical foul – the house is down, [Conor] McManus is in on goal and he’s ripped him down. But what you’ve seen is the more innocuous incidents, or where someone has been over-aggressive in a tackle… those things shouldn’t be punishable to the same degree as a cynical foul that purposely denies a goalscoring opportunity.”

It would be down to referees to make a judgment but, as we have seen since the black card was first introduced to football, inconsistency in the application of the rule has been a constant issue.

And with potentially game-changing moments potentially in the mix, Rogers feels that scrutiny would only intensify further.

He said: “Adding more rules in like this just makes an already hard job harder for referees, and leaves more scope for inconsistency.

“There’s a lot of interpretation and once that is the case, it becomes so subjective, depending on who you are or what you prefer. And that can leave players asking ‘what actually are the rules here?’

“What isn’t a penalty in one game suddenly might be in another, and then you have a problem because that’s when frustration kicks in.”

From a hurling perspective, Rogers is unconvinced too.

“It’s a different kind of game where physicality is concerned. It was never something I thought was needed in hurling.

“From my playing days, how many times have I been cynically pulled down to warrant a black card? Probably once and we got a penalty for it against Na Piarsaigh because it was inside the square.

“If it gets the green light, it will be interesting to see how many penalties are given, what the impact is, and whether it makes the game any better.”

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