By Brendan Cole
Conor McManus has said the GAA should introduce a red card for cynical fouls in order to stop the tackles that have become a major talking point over the summer.
The Monaghan star was hauled down in sight of goal but outside the square by Tyrone midfielder Sean Cavanagh during the two counties’ All-Ireland quarter-final clash. Cavanagh was only given a yellow card and while Monaghan pointed the subsequent free, they went on to lose the match by two points.
The yellow card and free were inadequate punishment in the eyes of many supporters and commentators. Cavanagh himself commented after the match the he would prefer not to be in a situation where the logic of the game dictated he was forced to pull an opponent down.
For his part, McManus acknowledged after the incident that the Tyrone man had little choice but to do what he did.
Speaking to Marty Morrissey on Championship Matters, McManus said: “From a team point of view, if somebody went through on your own defence and he was not stopped you would be disappointed. It is what it is. Tyrone are in an All-Ireland semi-final now and I don’t think they are too worried about how they got there.”
"It is win at all costs. That is how sport has gone." - Conor McManus
Would a stricter punishment have forced Cavanagh to allow McManus continue through towards goal, possibly altering the result?
“I suppose it probably would have. If Sean Cavanagh knew he was going to get sent off and miss the last 20 minutes of the game, I don’t think he would have done it. It would have cost Tyrone ultimately a place in the All-Ireland semi-final. But as it is at the minute, Sean knew he was not going to get a red card and he knew he could take the foul. It was good for Tyrone obviously because they got through.”
McManus admits that the overall mentality required by sport at the top level is part of the problem, but says that the GAA could adapt systems from other sports, including a straight red card for taking down players in clear scoring positions.
“It is win at all costs. That is how sport has gone. If somebody was to give any of our men the option of being in an All-Ireland final on Sunday they would all take it. Tackle or no tackle.”
“There are definitely some things from other sports that we can apply to Gaelic Games. For example, if Fernando Torres is through in a Premiership game and is taken down it is a straight red card. There has to something along those lines to fit the crime.”