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Published: 10:29 | 4/10/16

McGuinness wants black card dropped

Former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has called for the black card to be dropped.

The black card was introduced in 2014 with a view to reducing cynical play, but it has come in for much criticism with many believing it has increased the pressure on referees.

The rule is once again in the spotlight after Dublin's Jonny Cooper and Mayo's Lee Keegan were both black-carded during the All-Ireland SFC final replay.

McGuinness believes they were punished for innocuous fouls and the 2012 All-Ireland winning manager feels the time has come for the black card to be replaced.

"I remember jotting a note down: “Jonny Cooper absolutely excellent. Best player on field. Taking game to Mayo. Getting in front of his man and really transitioning”. Then I looked up and I couldn’t see Cooper anywhere and James Horan told me he had just been black- carded. I couldn’t believe it. Lee Keegan followed him shortly afterwards," McGuinness wrote in The Irish Times.

"So in a very real and terrible way, the black card dominated the All-Ireland football final. Kevin McLoughlin was fortunate, I felt, not to go for his tackle on Kevin McManamon and as I mentioned, John Small was blessed. But the Lee Keegan decision proved without question that the black card is flawed.

"Eugene McGee, one of its architects, has said that it has cleaned up the game. In my opinion, the black card is ruining the game. You simply cannot have two of the best players in the sport leaving the game in an All-Ireland final – the biggest game of their lives – for what were, at best, fouls that merited free kicks.

"Technically, Cooper’s was a black card. But the ball wasn’t even in play at the time: it was a nothing-moment in the middle of the park. And Keegan’s indiscretion was much greyer. He grappled with Diarmuid Connolly: he had his hand on his shoulder but they fell together. Did he drag him down? Impossible to say. It was a foul, yes. Was it a yellow card foul? I’m not sure.

"It has to go. The sin bin is not a perfect solution but at least it doesn’t ruin a player’s day or a team’s chances. He loses 10 – or even 15 – minutes; he has to go; the team is punished. But he gets to come back in and atone for it. The Keegan- Connolly duel was beginning to enter a new realm on Saturday. And we will never know how it should have turned out."

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