GAA Football

'Mark' may mean more short kick-outs says Antrim GAA's Michael McCann

Antrim's Michael McCann (right) is concerned about the consequences of the `mark'. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

THE law of unintended consequences may apply to the introduction of 'the mark' to gaelic football, believes Michael McCann.

The versatile Antrim footballer argues that rather than leading to more spectacular high catches, the new rule might in fact reduce the likelihood of those occurring.

The new rule, passed by just over the required two-thirds majority of delegates at the GAA's Annual Congress in Carlow on Saturday, is aimed at bringing down the number of short kick-outs and persuading teams to `go long'.

The motion read, in part, as follows: `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, he shall be awarded a mark by the referee. The player awarded a mark shall have the options of (a) taking a free kick or (b) playing on immediately.'

Former Armagh captain Jarlath Burns, who proposed the motion as the chairman of the Standing Committee on Playing Rules, stated: "Really, what this is going to do is make coaches think again about taking the short kick-out, which has risen out of control in the last number of years…the high catch will be preserved. We are down to six a game at the last count."

However, Cargin clubman McCann commented: "It may make teams play a wee bit longer out of defence – but, ultimately, if a short kick-out opportunity presents itself, you're always going with the percentages. You're going to go with 100 per cent short kick-out success as opposed to 60 per cent long…

"It'll definitely slow the game down…it'll probably pack defences even more, because you can hold the catcher for a couple of seconds while everybody drops in to set up [defensively].

"When a team breaks on you, what you want to do is stop them in the middle of the field, slow them down, give them a free kick so that you can get men back – well, this will now do that for you, to a certain degree".

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