Past and future GAA rule changes continue to confuse players and referees according to Kieran Donaghy, who joined Eoin Sheahan in the studio on Thursday morning’s OTB AM.
However, Donaghy believes the problem of the black card and how the sin bin is enforced is the most pressing issue that must be addressed by officials within the organisation.
Having already detailed the flaws in producing the black card for non-cynical fouls on Off The Ball, Donaghy said that if it was used correctly it would relieve the huge pressure placed on referees and force teams to begin “policing themselves” and reduce the amount of scrutiny placed on officials.
Donaghy empathised with the difficulties facing the referees who he believes do a “great job at the best of times.” The lack of clarity around the GAA rule changes hinders rather than helps.
At the county level, it can be easier to enforce the sin bin due to the use of hawkeye and the fact the referee has several officials to lean on, who will keep track of the exact time a player has spent off the field, following a black card.
However, at club level, Donaghy expressed his concern with the lack of assistance afforded to the referees who usually only have two umpires to help them track how long a player has been in the sin bin.
This can have a huge impact on the result of a game, said the former Kerry star.
“If it’s late in a game and you want to get a guy on with two-and-a-half minutes to go versus two minutes to go, that 30 seconds being down to 13 could end up in a goal so that’s your game, that’s your season.”
The rule was introduced in 2014 and Donaghy argued that, recently, it has been used to punish players who foul cynically which in turn has made many games “higher-scoring” affairs, according to the former All Star.
In recent weeks the majority of the discussion around rule changes has involved the introduction of the advanced mark. Donaghy feels that if the game continues to emulate the Australian Football League by introducing similar rules, then the GAA must look at the 50-metre rule which he felt has the potential to deter blatant cynicism on the pitch the most.
“Any cynical foul or pull-down late on in the game [or] any time in the game, the ball is brought up to the 21 and you pop it over the bar and if that cynical foul happens inside the 21-yard line it's an automatic penalty. That ends pulldowns and drag downs.”
While the ex-Kerry forward did acknowledge his history of committing a foul to prevent a goal-scoring chance, most notably on Shane Ryan in the 2007 All-Ireland semi-final, looking at this issue would have a positive change on the game moving forward.
Ultimately, the Kerry man feels that more direction on the GAA rule changes needs to be provided by those in leading positions within Croke Park.
In recent years new laws have been introduced from those in influential positions “without too much explanation” and instructional videos from the hierarchy on how the GAA rule changes are enforced would benefit all involved.
While in-studio, the four-time All-Ireland winner also spoke about the positive atmosphere surrounding Galway football following Corofin’s recent victory in the club championship, the impact Dessie Farrell will have on Dublin this year, and who he feels are dark horse contenders for this summer's county championship.
Written by Ruairi Carberry.