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Bringing in the mark to Gaelic football is 'off the wall' - Dublin star Whelan

Whelan has seen the mark rule in use during the Leinster minor league recently and has concerns.

THE INTRODUCTION OF the mark to Gaelic football has been described as ‘off the wall’ by ex-Dublin footballer Ciaran Whelan, who has seen the new rule being trialed in recent weeks in the Leinster minor league in his role as Dublin minor selector.

Ciaran Whelan and Darragh O'Se Ciaran Whelan outfields Darragh Ó Sé during the 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Last weekend’s GAA Congress ruled that players will now be able to call a ‘mark’ when catching a ball cleanly from a kick out.

Whelan, a leading midfielder during his Dublin career, expressed his reservations about the rule when speaking to 2FM’s Game On last night.

“I think to come out with a simplistic approach and think that this is going to introduce the skill of high fielding back into our game is off the wall, in my opinion, because it simply won’t.

“We saw All-Ireland’s where Tyrone’s tactic was to allow fielders to come down with the ball and smother them and try to get the ball off them and in that context, yes, you can see where the merits come from.

aul Galvin and Darragh O'Se with Phillip Jordan and Kevin Hughes Kerry and Tyrone players battle for possession in the 2008 All-Ireland final Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“I just think with the modern game, and I’ve seen it closely in the minor league trial over the last few weeks, has changed so much.

“The modern day inter-county goalkeeper will not be playing if he’s not good enough to find people in space.

“All of a sudden now, you have half-backs who are options on kick-outs and midfielders running into space.

“The amount of kick-outs that go out long in a 50-50 scenario has reduced considerably. We’ve trialled this over the past three weekends and I’d say that less than 50pc of our kick-outs go into that area.”

A view of the GAA Annual Congress today Delegates at last weekend's GAA Annual Congress in Carlow Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Whelan has sympathy for the players who must now try to adapt to the new rule and for the referees tasked with implementing it.

“I can see where current players feel aggrieved. The game is being messed around with over the weekend by the stroke of a pen with a rule that hasn’t been thought out in my opinion.

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“It’s going to be interesting to see how it goes because even the context of the players having to call the mark, he has to call it and the referee has to blow it and that is difficult for referees.

“I would be disappointed that they didn’t look at this more before they brought it in.”

You can listen to Ciaran Whelan’s full interview here.

What do you think? Do you agree with Whelan’s misgivings about the mark?

Let us know in the comments section below.

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Fintan O'Toole

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