The black card in lo­cal club games is like a lot­tery and I can see a lot of un­rest in the sum­mer

Bray People - - SPORT - The Michael Neary view

THE UN­DER-21 All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal be­tween Roscom­mon and Cork held over the Easter weekend in Port­laoise was a bril­liant advertisement for all that is good about Gaelic foot­ball.

This game formed part of a dou­ble bill with the other semi-fi­nal be­tween Dublin and Ca­van. To add to the ex­cite­ment both games ended in dra­matic and some­what con­tro­ver­sial cir­cum­stances.

As my late fa­ther was a proud Roscom­mon man I've al­ways held a great af­fil­i­a­tion with all GAA mat­ters in Roscom­mon.

In the 70s and 80s I trav­elled the length and breadth of the coun­try to watch the Roscom­mon county foot­ballers play both league and cham­pi­onship games.

I was priv­i­leged to watch some bril­liant foot­ballers at that time such as Danny Mur­ray, the late Der­mot Early and Tony McManus to name but a few. Un­for­tu­nately for the most part the im­por­tant trips ended in dis­ap­point­ment with the big­gest heart­break be­ing that of los­ing the All-Ire­land to Kerry in 1980.

In the re­cent semi-fi­nal Roscom­mon U21s showed what a com­plete team they are. They were con­fi­dent in ev­ery as­pect of the game and cre­ated and ex­e­cuted some fan­tas­tic scores. In Smith and Murtagh they have two ex­cel­lent for­wards who I ex­pect will be around for a long time.

My only con­cern for this team is the man­ner in which they con­ceded the three goals and un­less they can tighten up this area they could very well fall short against the high pro­file Dublin squad.

Anthony Nolan's de­ci­sion to award a last minute a free to Roscom­mon was cor­rect. This free, I felt, should have been for the foul by the Cork de­fender on the Roscom­mon for­ward and not for the ques­tion­able pick-up.

Anthony did a fine job but I was get­ting a bit wor­ried for the Wick­low of­fi­cials when there was con­fu­sion and un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing the award­ing of the first scores by each team. Thank­fully for all con­cerned this didn't con­tinue.

Dublin were very lucky to come through the other semi-fi­nal. The award­ing of the fi­nal free to Dublin was very harsh on the Ca­van team.

I felt the Dublin for­ward had missed the chance to score and the ref­eree was very se­vere to award the sub­se­quent free.

The game hinged on two black cards of­fences, one awarded to the Ca­van for­ward and the other not awarded to the Dublin for­ward, McHugh.

The Ca­van for­ward was one of the main scor­ing threats for his team and Ca­van suf­fered when he was forced to leave the pitch.

McHugh scored the third of his points when many felt he should have been off the field. Dublin were very poor on the day and were very waste­ful with the nu­mer­ous chances they cre­ated es­pe­cially Paul Man­nion and Cor­mac Costello both of whom have fig­ured reg­u­larly with the Se­niors. I felt Dublin found it dif­fi­cult to lift their per­for­mance and at times many seemed more in­ter­ested in how they looked rather than reach­ing an All-Ire­land fi­nal.

With the fi­nal fixed for Tul­lam­ore this weekend I pre­dict that Roscom­mon, if they can tighten things up in de­fence, will be crowned cham­pi­ons (hope­fully!).

The Wick­low Mi­nor foot­ballers not sur­pris­ingly got a walk-over from Kilkenny in the losers group of the Le­in­ster Cham­pi­onship. Wick­low now face a much tougher as­sign­ment against West­meath.

Wick­low will be anx­ious to put that dis­ap­point­ing de­feat to Meath be­hind them when they face West­meath where hope­fully they can put in a per­for­mance that re­flects the ef­fort the team has made to date.

I was in­ter­ested to read the man­ager's pre­view of the Meath game. John Mur­phy was, cor­rectly, ex­tremely pos­i­tive of his team's chances and was sat­is­fied that both he and his man­age­ment team had pre­pared this squad to the best of their abil­ity since last Oc­to­ber. Un­for­tu­nately, the Meath re­sult high­lights the con­trast­ing stan­dards in Le­in­ster and the amount of work coun­ties like Wick­low need to un­der­take to com­pete at the clos­ing stages of the Le­in­ster Cham­pi­onship.

What about the Black Card? At in­ter­county level I ex­pect to see much greater use of this card in the cham­pi­onship, es­pe­cially in the tele­vised games.

In lo­cal club games it has been a lot­tery. When a tackle is made in club games people don't know what colour card to ex­pect.

Ref­er­ees rightly or wrongly have been very in­con­sis­tent in their use of black cards and un­less there is more con­sis­tency one way or the other I would an­tic­i­pate a lot of un­rest when the cham­pi­onship be­gins.

The Ju­nior ' B' League has kicked off on Thurs­day nights. Not a great start on the first night es­pe­cially in the north of the county as we had two walkovers, no ref­eree turn­ing up for one match (de­spite the fact the ap­pointed ref had told both the of­fice in Ark­low and the Ref­er­ees Body he was un­avail­able in ad­vance) and fi­nally an aban­doned game. Things can only im­prove.

The Se­nior hurlers com­mence their Christy Ring cam­paign this Satur­day with a dif­fi­cult away as­sign­ment in New­bridge against Kil­dare.

Wick­low will be hop­ing to repli­cate the form they showed in win­ning the Di­vi­sion 2B fi­nal.

With Ea­monn Kearns still un­avail­able and Christy Moore­house sus­pended, a strong show­ing will be needed by all to se­cure a vic­tory and qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the more di­rect route to the fi­nal stages.

Re­ports com­ing from the camp in­di­cate that both Luke Maloney and Ge­of­frey Ber­ming­ham are push­ing hard for a start­ing role in de­fence and both T.J. Hennessey and Aaron Nu­gent would be hop­ing to re­ceive the nod to re­place Moore­house.

On cur­rent form there is no rea­son why Wick­low can't re­verse last year's de­feat at the hands of Kil­dare in Ark­low.

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