GAA Football

"The mark goes against all fundamental defensive coaching" - Kerry legend Seamus Moynihan

Seamus Moynihan pictured ahead of the Electric Ireland Higher Education Feile Weekend; visit either or to access live streams.
Picture by Morgan Treacy / INPHO

SEAMUS Moynihan has called on the GAA to review the advanced mark rule, saying that it “goes against all fundamental defensive coaching”.

While the Kerry legend believes there was “no major need for it”, his issue isn’t so much its existence, but rather the way in which it allows the forward a massive advantage if they choose to play on.

If a forward takes a clean catch and decides not to stop for the free-kick, the rules states that they can’t be challenged until they’ve taken four steps.

“The mark in itself is a great skill. It’s great to see a guy that can kick the ball in and a guy that can catch it, I’ve no problem with that,” he said.

“The grey area, I feel, is if a player puts up his hand and the referee blows, it’s a mark, but if he doesn’t, the defender’s supposed to allow him take four steps before he contests it.

“That goes against all fundamental defensive coaching, and it’s a very grey area. They have to review that one because it doesn’t make any sense to me.

“In terms of the mark itself, it’s a good skill but it’s coming from a different code and I don’t really think there’s a major need for it.

“The mark from the kickout is of more benefit because you’re rewarding goalkeepers for going longer distance and not kicking it 13 metres, and you’re rewarding a catch made on a ball kicked 45, 50 yards over your head.”

Moynihan, a Sigerson Cup winner with both UCC and IT Tralee, was acting as an ambassador for the Electric Ireland Higher Education Championships in Dublin yesterday.

The Sigerson has been in the headlines recently, with current UCC boss Billy Morgan’s attack on the GAA’s treatment of it widening the debate on its future, having been squeezed into just three weeks in January this year.

Moynihan believes that the pressure on inter-county managers has brought the squeeze upon the third level competitions and called on the GAA to return to a system that would see universities given first call on players during the competition.

“For me personally, the Sigerson was a competition I really enjoyed playing in. It was maybe a notch or two below inter-county but it was really high-octane, and a chance to play with guys that were in UCC who were the enemy.

“It brought its own camaraderie. We spend our lifetime playing with our counties, and for the few years you’re playing Sigerson, it’s a great opportunity to make friendships outside that, guys that you’re sharing houses with and going into lecture halls with.

“From October until February, it was a really hard structure in terms of training. We trained early in the morning, you did your weights, you did three collective training sessions a week.

“Back in the time, inter-county managers were ok with that because they knew you were training hard and playing football, whereas other guys were just staying fit and doing more aerobic stuff over the winter.

“At the minute, it’s hard to see where the GAA are fitting in the Sigerson. There doesn’t seem to be a three or four-week period where games can be run, never mind an opportunity for managers to put in the hard work with them back in October.

“Those windows of opportunity aren’t there. That’s coming from the fact that inter-county managers are under more pressure to get results, and to get guys to buy into the whole inter-county setup.

“Something has to give and it’s a pity because Sigerson football has been there for me, it’s a huge competition. The GAA have to find a slot and a compromise where players are allowed play Sigerson and give it their all, because it’ll be finished in February and you’ve ample time after that to get guys back in to play National League and championship.”

Kerry come to Omagh on Sunday with a much-vaunted attack headed by David Clifford, who’s been the subject of much debate since being handed the Kerry captaincy.

He was nominated for the honour by virtue of having skippered the East Kerry amalgam that won last year’s club championship crown.

The old tradition was subject to a vote at a county board meeting last week as some sought a change that would have allowed management to choose their own captain, but the clubs voted 50-48 against it.

Moynihan, a four-time All-Ireland winner, benefitted to a point from the old system when he captained Kerry in ’98 and then to glory in 2000, albeit he would arguably have captained them more often had it been strictly a managerial choice.

“I would be in favour of a change personally. I think for the current and future management, it would be in their interest and the current interest that they pick a captain that they feel is best to do the job. The current system doesn’t do that.

“Over the years, I’ve gained from that system, I’ve been a captain through it and been very grateful of it, I still don’t think it’s the best system. It’s an old tradition, but we’re in an association where change is a slow process.

“Ultimately it will change but as of right now, we’re fortunate that David is a very good captain. He’ll wear the cap very easily, it won’t put any extra pressure on the guy, but the system is open to flaws.

“You’ll have a guy there who may be a good player but the pressure of captaincy may not suit him, and we’re still open to that.”

In his weekly coaching column on RTÉ.ie, former Armagh defender Aidan O’Rourke this week suggested Peter Keane trial a left-field idea and put Sean O’Shea in to Moynihan’s old number six shirt.

“It’s something I wouldn’t see myself. I’ve never seen Seanie Shea play as a back at any level underage, it’s always been as centre-forward,” said Moynihan.

“I would maybe see him transition to midfield at some stage, that would make more sense. I would never see him playing as a centre-back, not in the way he’s playing.

“He’s a current Allstar forward and we need that kind of quality player up front. I couldn’t see Kerry management doing that. We need our best players expressing themselves up on the other side of the field.”

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