‘Mark’ motion likely to be withdrawn at GAA Congress

Lack of a proper trial at senior intercounty level seen as a major drawback to proposal

It now seems likely that one of few GAA Congress motions submitted by the Standing Committee on Playing Rules may be withdrawn from the clár before it is either discussed or voted on.

Motion 41, submitted by Central Council on foot of proposals agreed with the Standing Committee on Playing Rules, is seeking to introduce the ‘mark’ in Gaelic football.

The proposed mark would be somewhat similar to the one that is used in the International Rules with Australia, although it would apply only in the case of kick-outs which go beyond the 45-metre line.

It’s one of only two playing-rule modifications up for debate at this weekend’s Congress at the Mount Wolseley hotel in Carlow (the other being a minor amendment to the “body collide” associated with a the black card).

The Kerry County Board have already declared their intention to support the mark, as have several other counties, and while it would require a two-thirds majority in order to be written into the rule, the lack of a proper trial period means it’s now likely to be withdrawn.

If a motion fails to attract a one-third level support then it can’t be brought back to Congress for another five years.

Indeed there is still some uncertainty over how exactly the proposed new rule would apply. According to the wording of the motion, “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.”

The mark is essentially designed to improve or encourage the art of fielding the ball cleanly from the kick out.

However it doesn’t limit the short kick-out, as the goalkeeper is still free to kick out long or short, depending on his particular preference.

Technical details

The rule is not without some technical details. If a player signifies to the referee that he is availing of the free kick from the mark, he must then take the free-kick himself from the hand from the point where he was awarded the mark; once the player indicates he is taking the ‘mark’ the referee will allow up to five seconds for the player to take the kick.

While the mark is currently being trialled in the Leinster Minor Football League, the lack of a proper trial at senior intercounty level has prompted speculation that the motion will now be withdrawn from Congress and possibly brought back for the 2017 Congress.

Next year the Standing Committee on Playing Rules is also likely to introduce proposals to limit the number of hand passes that can be availed of and also introduce a “tap ‘n’ go” method of free-taking.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics