GAA Football

Introduction of advanced mark over-complicates matters for refs says Pat McEnaney

Pat McEnaney, a former head of the GAA’s referee committee, believes the introduction of the advanced mark has over-complicated Gaelic football. Picture by Sportsfile
Neil Loughran

FORMER inter-county referee Pat McEnaney believes the GAA has “over-complicated” Gaelic football with the introduction of the advanced mark.

The GAA yesterday moved to clarify a number of points regarding the new rules, with the advanced mark and the sin-bin coming in for criticism from some quarters during pre-season competitions.

This weekend sees the start of the National Football League, when the scrutiny will be intensified even further.

And while McEnaney has backed referees to adapt to the new rules, he says the GAA has made life more difficult for officials.

“When I was refereeing myself, people used to say ‘referees won’t be able to cope with this, they won’t be able to cope with that’ – referees have a great knack of coping,” said McEnaney, a former head of the GAA’s referee committee.

“That said, have we made it difficult for them? Yes we have, because there’s a lot of questions to be asked here. Was the player outside the 45 metre line? Did he pass the ball 20 metres? Had the player already obtained a mark from the kick-out before he kicked it into the 45?

“We could’ve made it a bit easier for referees by allowing a mark from a mark. We’ve over-complicated it.”

As for how the new rules will play out at club level, McEnaney added: “No matter what rule change you’re talking about, it’s always going to be more difficult for the club referee. That’s a fact.”

The Monaghan man admits he is not a fan of the advanced mark in terms of the impact it has on the game, but will make a “considered decision” after seeing how it fares through the National League.

Indeed, McEnaney pointed to talk surrounding the potential introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) as an example of how swiftly opinions can change.

“I believe the advanced mark will take away from our game, but at the same time I’m a great believer that if you expect different results by doing the same things, that’s the first sign of madness.

“The world evolves, people evolve, the game evolves. I’ll make a considered decision on it at the end of the National League when I’ve seen it in full.

“If you had asked me six months ago whether I was for VAR in the GAA, I’d have said you were going to see it in the next two or three years. Now, having seen it in the Premier League, you wouldn’t want it anywhere near you.

“Everyone thought this was going to save the world but it’s taken that bit of human error and excitement out of the game.”

McEnaney was, and remains, a supporter of the black card and feels the introduction of a 10-minute sin-bin “will encourage time-wasting and negative football”.

“The sin bin I’m not a fan of, I was never a fan of it. We tried it a number of years ago and it didn’t work,” he said.

“It will encourage time wasting and negative football. We looked at that when we took in the black card, and that’s why we went with a replacement player.

“If I was managing a team and they went down to 14 players, I’d be saying ‘right boys, next 10 minutes, try and waste as much time as possible’.

“Referees need to be aware of time-wasting tactics, because you might have a player going down holding his head when he might have damaged his knee. You’ll have all that kind of stuff going on

“If a player is down injured, that is included in the man’s time out. If a player is substituted, that’s time off. I’d have kept it as it was, but we’ll give it a chance and see how it goes.”


* The referee will blow his whistle to indicate the mark and it is up to the player who has won possession to either raise his hand to indicate he is taking the mark - this was not the case during last year's National League - or can play on

* The player will have 15 seconds, not five, to take the kick and opposing players now must retreat 13 metres

* If the mark is for the attacking team inside the 13 metre line, the ball is brought to the 13 metre line in line where the mark was taken

* Once a mark is called, play cannot continue on and should a player suffer a serious injury in the process of taking the mark, the referee, at his own discretion, will direct the nearest team-mate to take the kick

*A defender may also claim an attacking mark once the ball has travelled at least 20 metres and has been kicked from outside or on the 45-metre line in play


* Ten minutes in sin-bin irrespective of delays

* A subsequent black card infraction shall be penalised by the showing of a black card followed by a red card

* A subsequent yellow card infraction will be penalised by the showing of a yellow card followed by a red card

* In either case there shall be no substitution allowed. The maximum number of substitutions in normal time to return to five

* Player who receives a black card in ordinary time and time period is not complete cannot start extra time and cannot be replaced

* The time commences when the game restarts after the dismissal for Black card. 

* If a goalkeeper gets a black card, team management will decide how they wish to deal with it. To have protections under rule for a goalkeeper this player needs to wear a distinctive jersey


* Kick to be taken from the 20 metre line, from the centre point and from the ground

* Cannot be kicked back.

* All players shall be outside the 20 metre line, outside the semi-circle and 13 metres from the ball until it has been kicked

* The ball will travel not less than 13 metres and outside the 20 metre line before being played by another player on the defending team

* If the goalkeeper is not taking the kick-out, he will stay within the small rectangle, and all other players except the player taking the kick-out will be outside the 20 metre line and 13 metres from the ball. 

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