Players divided over the mark
Reducing deliberate and cynical fouling may well be the main intention of the Football Review Committee – and likely to cause the most debate at next month’s Congress – but they are looking to improve the pure aesthetics of the game as well, namely by introducing “the mark”.
Essentially designed to restore a greater prevalence of the high or clean catch, the exact FRC proposal (motion 20) reads: “When the ball from a kick-out is caught cleanly by a player on or past the 45 metre line, the referee shall blow his whistle to signal that the player has made a mark.
“After a mark is made, the player making the mark may play on immediately or if he intends to avail of the mark he must indicate this to the Referee by way of raising an arm upright”.
If passed, the rule – like all FRC proposals – would only come into effect next year.
There are also some new infractions built around the mark: opposing players must immediately retreat 10 metres to allow the player space to take the kick, which shall be taken from the hands from the point at which the mark was made, within a period not exceeding five seconds; if the player delays longer than the five seconds allowed, the referee shall cancel the mark and throw-in the ball; or if the player making the mark is injured in the process and unable to take the kick, his nearest team-mate may take the kick, but may not score directly from it.
It is also essentially the same principle as what’s allowed in Australian Rules, although interestingly, earlier this week, Dublin footballer Ciarán Kilkenny – who spent six weeks on trial with Melbourne club Hawthorn – admitted his dislike of the mark as played in their game, and didn’t see any great reason why in should be introduced in Gaelic football.
“No I’d rather it was just the way it is at the moment now,” said Kilkenny. “It’s a lot more free-flowing and there’s that flair aspect of just end-to-end, keeping it going and going, instead of stoppages. But it would be good to test it out and see what it’s like.”
Opinion of players appears divided, with Dublin midfielder Michael Dara Macauley recently admitting his willingness to give it a go: “It’s worth looking at, because the high fielding aspect is gone out of the game.”
However, Cork midfielder Aidan Walsh was not so sure: “The one thing that people probably would be afraid of is fellas would take a mark and then stop instead of taking it on and that could slow up the game a small bit.”