Dublin footballer Diarmuid Connolly has labelled the introduction of the ‘mark’ in Gaelic football as a ‘dead duck’. Ahead of its official start date in January, KIERAN McCARTHY got the views of a few local footballers and managers
WHETHER you’re a fan of the ‘mark’ or not, this new rule comes into force in all games from January 1st, 2017.
It’s hoped that the introduction of the ‘mark’ will safeguard the future of the high catch, which has become somewhat of a lost art in modern-day football.
A ‘mark’ will be awarded when a player catches the ball cleanly from a kick-out without it touching the ground, on or past the 45m line nearest the kick-out point. The player awarded the ‘mark’ has two options, to either take a free kick or play on immediately.
In the panel at the bottom of the page we look at some frequently asked questions regard the ‘mark’ but we also canvassed locally to get the thoughts of players and managers.
‘I don’t think it will work. It’s a romantic notion, the thought of fellas catching a ball up in the air. I’ve had experience of it in the Higher Education League with CIT, nine times out of ten the players play through it, they don’t stop. If they catch the ball they play on, like they’re used to, they pay no attention to the ‘mark’. By the time he lands he pops it to the runner off his shoulder. In four or five Higher Education League games, while a fella has been given the ‘mark’, no one has stopped to use it. You’re giving away the advantage by stopping. We want a fast-flowing game and that’s more important than one or two overhead catches,’ – Paul Holland, Clonakilty senior football manager
‘The mark could be brilliant. It could open up the game. Look at Cork, if you have Alan O’Connor, Aidan Walsh and Ian Maguire in midfield, it’s a great option to have. If it’s done right, it could be good. But that’s the key, it has to be officiated right,’ – Ryan Price, O’Donovan Rossa and Cork goalkeeper
‘I hope it will be a benefit to the game. I’ve seen a little bit of it in third level colleges’ football but it’s going to take guys a bit of time to get used to it. Once you get used to it and how it works – and if it’s officiated properly – then it should help high fielding and giving a reward for that off a long kick-out. There has been a veer towards the short kick-outs a lot in recent years so this might encourage teams to hit long that bit more and use their midfielders. The trial period has been short and it will take some getting used to, but I think it’s worth exploring at the same time,’ – Gene O’Driscoll, former Carbery senior football manager
‘It’s good to see something done to try and bring back high fielding but we’ll have to wait and see how it pans out. I think it will suit the teams with good goalkeepers – like Stephen Cluxton with Dublin, Ryan Price with Cork, who have good kick-outs – because they’ll be able to ping the ball straight to their teammates. Tactically, it will be interesting because if you can isolate a teammate and get the ball to him clean, you’re guaranteed possession around the middle. I just hope the lines on the club fields are marked clearly so there’ll be no controversy!’ – Daniel O’Donovan, Dohenys
‘It’s hard to know what’s going to happen until it comes in and we see how it works out. The way the game is at the moment, short kick-outs are the way teams are going, it’s all about possession now so I’m not sure will teams risk going long into the middle when there’s a chance that you might not guarantee possession whereas if you go short and you’ve a good kick-out strategy, nine times out of ten you keep possession. The ‘mark’ could slow the game down too. We’ll know more when we start using it, but it’s up in the air now. I’m not convinced, to be honest,’ – Alan O’Connor, St Colum’s and Cork midfielder
‘You won’t know until it’s trialled. From a Bandon point of view it won’t suit us because we don’t have natural midfielders to catch it high if it goes long. We play converted midfielders. If you have good midfielders it will work to your advantage. The kick-out has changed so much in the last few years, most go to the half-back line now, so it will be interesting to see how teams approach it and how they try to use the ‘mark’ to their advantage. A lot of it will come down to the referee’s interpretation of the rules, too. We’ll have to see what happens,’ – Colm Aherne, former Bandon football manager
‘The new ‘mark’ is actually being used in third level leagues at present and it’s not making any difference. Gaelic players don’t stop when they win possession and they forget about the ‘mark’. I would agree with it where a player fields a high ball in a bunch of players and when he lands he gets a free play. But at the moment it doesn’t seem to be making any difference in third level games’ – Billy Morgan, former All-Ireland winning Cork football manager