Connect with us


The sin bin in ladies’ football isn’t deterring fouls – so what’s the point?



by Adam Moynihan

From Kerry’s perspective, the most frustrating thing about last Sunday’s All-Ireland final is that they didn’t put forward their best version of themselves. They have been electrifying at times this season but, for whatever reason, they looked a bit out of sorts against Dublin.

During the opening exchanges they really struggled to pin down the excellent Hannah Tyrrell, who kicked eight of the Dubs’ 11 first-half points. Contrary to some viral tweets, Tyrrell didn’t give birth to the seven-week-old baby she cradled in her arms at full-time – the credit there goes to her wife – but her performance was still incredible.

Going the other way, Kerry never got rolling offensively. They prefer to move the ball at pace, and they have the speed and skills to get from one end of the field to the other with real efficiency, but Dublin never allowed that to happen.

Mick Bohan’s side were clearly well drilled and they frequently engaged in tactical fouling to slow Kerry down. Stopping their opponents’ momentum gave them the opportunity to retreat and get their shape. When Kerry did attack, they invariably ran into a brick wall and wound up turning the ball over far too often.

Some of this was simply down to bad decision-making – either by not avoiding contact or by attempting passes that weren’t on – and the players will take ownership for those errors.

But it would be remiss of any reporter to overlook Dublin’s foul count in this game and also in the games preceding it. The eventual champions had 26 fouls to Kerry’s 14 in the final. In the semi-final they had 35 fouls to Cork’s 13. And in the quarter-final they had 30 fouls to Donegal’s 13 (stats via @GaelicStatsman on Twitter).

Over a three-match period, Dublin committed 91 fouls – over 30 fouls per game – while their opponents committed just 40 fouls between them (13.3 fouls per game). That’s a massive discrepancy.

For further context, teams in the men’s All-Ireland series committed an average of 14.4 fouls per game. Armagh v Monaghan was the match with the most fouls (38 in total, 19 per team). And that match went to extra time. A foul count of 30-plus for one team in one match isn’t at all common anywhere.

You might expect Dublin’s abnormal foul count to be reflected, at least to some extent, in their card count, but that wasn’t the case. Just one of their 91 fouls resulted in a yellow card. Eilísh O’Dowd was booked – and sin-binned – for pulling back an opponent with 11 minutes to go against Cork. The referee indicated that it was her third such infraction.

The official LGFA guide states that “repetition” of fouls like pushing or holding “shall constitute a yellow card offence”. It doesn’t state that three fouls equals a yellow. By definition, repetition means doing something again. But refs, players and coaches operate under the assumption that three is the magic number. Incidentally, the GAA rule book is less ambiguous. It says that offenders should be cautioned for committing this kind of foul a second time.

Whatever the official wording, it’s clear that men’s and women’s referees treat yellow cards very differently – even beyond the two/three-foul distinction. In the men’s All-Ireland series, a yellow card was issued once every 4.7 fouls. Meanwhile, in the women’s series, a yellow card was issued once every 72.8 fouls.

Obviously, the major difference between a yellow in men’s football and a yellow in women’s football is what happens next. Men can stay on the pitch. Women go to the sin bin for ten minutes. Do we see fewer yellow cards in ladies’ football because referees are less inclined to effectively send a player off – even temporarily – for minor infringements like holding or pushing?

When it comes down to it, cards are there to discourage players from fouling again. Therefore, it stands to reason that reluctance to issue cards leads to more fouls, which perhaps explains why a team like Dublin can effectively get away with committing over 30 fouls per game.

The sin bin rule, which was brought in as a deterrent to prevent foul play, may actually be deterring referees from punishing foul play. You have to wonder if ladies’ football would be better off without it.

With regards to this year’s final, Kerry can have no major complaints about the result. Dublin were the better side on the day and they deserved to win.

But if a team can consistently commit such a high number of fouls, go largely unpunished, and wind up as All-Ireland champions, it sets a negative precedent - and it also suggests that there might be something wrong with the laws of the game.



Kerry Camogie vow to back players in shorts/skorts controversy



by Adam Moynihan

The Kerry County Board will back their players if they decide to defy the rulebook and wear shorts after officials at the Camogie Association’s National Congress voted to keep the controversial skort.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, Kerry Camogie chairperson Ann Marie Russell confirmed that she is fully behind the players, the vast majority of whom want the skort to be binned.

“I know there have been calls for a protest, that they would all go out the first weekend of the championship and wear shorts,” Russell said. “If the players felt that was something they wanted to do, Kerry Camogie would absolutely support them.

“It should be up to the people who it affects. It doesn’t matter to me what the players wear or what they look like. They should be comfortable.”

The punishment for not wearing the correct playing gear is a yellow card which can be followed by a red card for dissent if not rectified.

Players say the skirt-like garment is not comfortable and they were hopeful that it would finally become a thing of the past when the issue was raised at Congress in Kildare last weekend.

However, a motion by Tipperary and Kerry to replace it with shorts was defeated by 64% to 36%. A similar proposal by Great Britain and Meath which would have given players the option to choose between skorts and shorts also fell well short of the two-thirds majority required (55% against, 45% in favour).

Voting was carried out by delegates from the various county boards as well as members of central and provincial councils. The majority of voters were female.

As one of Kerry’s two delegates, Russell confirmed that she voted in line with the players’ wishes, but she fears that delegates from some counties didn’t do likewise.

“Our job as delegates is to speak on behalf of the players and I definitely felt as though that wasn’t reflected by some of the other counties. I don’t know any girl in any age group at any level that goes to training in a skort. That, in itself, should speak volumes to the powers that be. Even the counties that wanted to keep the skorts, there’s no way their girls go training in skorts. I know they don’t.

“When camogie first started, women weren’t allowed to wear pants, so they had no choice but to wear skirts. They were longer at the time and things have evolved since then. The design is better. But there is a misconception that there are shorts underneath the skirts so ‘what’s the big deal?’ They’re not shorts, they’re compression shorts. That’s not the same thing.

“And look, I’m not wearing the skorts so it doesn’t matter to me. You have to listen to the players. That’s what I feel.

“We’re making decisions that really have little relevance to us, so we really have to take our players’ opinions into it. I’m not sure how many delegates go back and ask their players about these motions before they vote on them.”

Also speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, Kerry senior player Niamh Leen outlined the specific issues players have with the skort.

“If you went around the country, I guarantee you that you’d only find a handful of girls actually training in a skort,” the Clanmaurice woman said. “I’ve never been to a training session where someone was wearing a skort. We’re all in shorts.

“The practical side of it is that they’re really uncomfortable. They’re constantly rising up and I spend the majority of the match pulling the skort down instead of concentrating on the game. It shouldn’t be that way.”

According to Leen, the discomfort felt by players is not just physical. There is also a psychological discomfort involved.

“I am very paranoid about the skort, especially the length. You spend a lot of time bending over to pick up the ball and I am conscious of it. Even if you size up, it’s still too short. The only way to counteract it is to wear Skins (base layer) underneath which I don’t really like doing because that’s not overly comfortable either.

“It should be a players’ vote at the end of the day. We’re the ones who actually have to wear them and we should be the ones having the say. But, unfortunately, it’s not up to us.

“It’s very, very annoying. I could use harsher words but it is just frustrating, you know? We’ve wanted this motion to be passed for so many years.

“Nobody I know likes playing in a skort and it’s frustrating that our own organisation aren’t taking the players into account.”

This is not the first time a proposal to replace the skort has been rejected and players will have to wait another three years for the next Congress to try to alter the rules on an official basis.

Leen believes that she and her colleagues should not have to wait that long and questions the reasoning of those delegates who voted to keep the status quo.

“Honestly, I think it’s to keep the tradition and to keep us unique, and maybe they see the skorts as being more feminine, which is just mind-boggling for me. I just don’t understand how that could be a reason to keep something that’s making girls uncomfortable.

“I understand that it’s the tradition, but sometimes traditions have to move on.”


Continue Reading


MATCH PREVIEW: Kerry name strong team for league final showdown with Armagh



by Adam Moynihan

Lidl National League Division 1 Final

Kerry v Armagh

Sunday 3pm

Croke Park

Live on TG4

The Kerry ladies return to Croke Park on Sunday hoping to retain their Division 1 crown and managers Declan Quill and Darragh Long have named a strong-looking line-up for their battle against Armagh.

Kerry mostly used the league for experimenting but they still managed to win five of their seven matches, enough to secure a top two finish.

Now almost all of The Kingdom’s big hitters are back in play, as evidenced by the team they have selected for this weekend’s Division 1 decider at HQ.

Eleven members of the side that lost to Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland final have been selected to start against Armagh. The four “new” starters are goalkeeper Mary Ellen Bolger, full back Deirdre Kearney, midfielder Mary O’Connell and full forward Emma Dineen.

Dineen has rejoined the panel following a spell abroad and has slotted seamlessly into Kerry’s full forward line. She will be flanked by Footballer of the Year Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh and the skilful Hannah O’Donoghue, who scored 1-2 against Galway a fortnight ago.

The only really notable absentee – apart from veterans like Emma Costello and Louise Galvin who haven’t yet featured for the team in 2024 – is Síofra O’Shea. The dynamic attacker, who heroically came off the bench in last year’s All-Ireland despite damaging her ACL in the lead-up to the game, is still rehabbing that serious injury.

Meanwhile, the return of All-Star defender Cáit Lynch bolsters Kerry’s back six. The Castleisland Desmonds woman has been used sparingly so far this year and she came on at half-time in that final regulation league game versus Galway.

Quill and Long are likely to call on substitutes Amy Harrington and Danielle O’Leary to make an impact if and when required.

Kerry’s sole loss in the league came at the hands of their final opponents, Armagh, who are looking to emulate what The Kingdom achieved last season by winning Division 1 at the first attempt after gaining promotion from Division 2 the previous season.

The Orchard County beat Kerry by 3-14 to 1-13 at the Athletic Grounds just over a month ago.

They flew through the regular phase of the 2024 competition, winning six games in a row before losing to Dublin in Round 7 with many key players being rested.

Star forward Aimee Mackin has been in blistering form. She has racked up 6-21 (4-15 from play) to date, including 2-6 (1-6 from play) in that meeting between the eventual finalists in March.

Armagh had not yet named their team for the final as this article was being published.

This match forms part of a double header with the Division 2 final between Kildare and Tyrone (1pm). Both games will be televised live on TG4.

Kerry team to play Armagh:

1. Mary Ellen Bolger (Southern Gaels)

2. Cáit Lynch (Castleisland Desmonds)

3. Deirdre Kearney (Na Gaeil)

4. Eilís Lynch (Castleisland Desmonds)

5. Aishling O’Connell (Scartaglin)

6. Ciara Murphy (MKL Gaels)

7. Kayleigh Cronin (Dr Crokes)

8. Mary O’Connell (Na Gaeil)

9. Anna Galvin (Southern Gaels)

10. Niamh Carmody (Captain – Finuge/St Senan’s)

11. Niamh Ní Chonchúir (Corca Dhuibhne)

12. Lorraine Scanlon (Castleisland Desmonds)

13. Hannah O’Donoghue (Beaufort)

14. Emma Dineen (Glenflesk)

15. Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh (Corca Dhuibhne)

Subs: Ciara Butler, Danielle O’Leary, Amy Harrington, Ciara McCarthy, Ciara O’Brien, Katie Brosnan, Aoife Dillane, Bríd O’Connor, Kate O’Sullivan, Eilís O’Connor, Fay O’Donoghue, Jess Gill, Róisín Smith, Siobhán Burns, Keri-Ann Hanrahan.

Follow Adam on Twitter/X for all the latest updates from the Ladies Division 1 final at Croke Park


  • (846 kB)
Continue Reading