Read the room and ditch advanced mark, says Ó Sé

An ardent opponent of the measure since it was introduced in 2020, the 2004 footballer of the year says coaching, not the mark has had the biggest impact in fighting the mass defence.
Read the room and ditch advanced mark, says Ó Sé

Tomás Ó Sé: I’ve yet to meet anyone who speaks positively about it.

Tomás Ó Sé has called on GAA officials to speak to managers and players about the advanced mark and do away with the rule.

An ardent opponent of the measure since it was introduced in 2020, the 2004 footballer of the year says coaching, not the mark has had the biggest impact in fighting the mass defence.

Ó Sé is aware his native county Kerry exploited the advanced mark across this year’s championship up to and including the first half of the All-Ireland final when they converted three of them. But that doesn’t mean he felt it was right.

“Every team that has a good man inside is going to do well with it. Even if you don’t, you can still be cute to make the most out of it and you don’t need to be lamping it in from the half-back line.

“It is not part of our game, it is not our game. It's like a free kick and the back has done nothing wrong. I still see confusion among players in matches when they don’t know if it’s a mark or not. Different referees referee it differently.

“I don’t agree with (David) Clifford getting two marks in the first half of the final. Paul Geaney got one too and they all went a long way to Kerry winning it because without them they were struggling otherwise. Being at the game, as a Kerryman I was saying ‘great’ when they got those points but it is wrong and it was unfair on the Galway backs.”

The playing rules committee are due to meet later this month before giving a presentation to Central Council on August 27. However, there are currently no plans to reverse the advanced mark. Although the body has changed personnel since 2020, David Hassan remains the chairman.

The argument for awarding a free kick for a clean catch inside the 45-metre line from a 20m or longer kick from outside that 45m was it would counter the blanket defence. Ó Sé believes that argument has been well and truly defeated at this stage and the vast majority of those involved in game despise the rule.

And just because there aren’t more speaking up against it doesn’t mean it has been accepted, maintains this past season's Offaly selector. “People think they don’t like it, they know they don’t like it, they know it’s not part of our game but they don’t speak up. It’s like the Sigerson. People say, ‘Aw, the Sigerson was played this year, what’s the problem?’ The Sigerson wasn’t right this year at all.

“Just because nobody is shouting from the rooftops doesn’t mean people support something. I’ve been in an inter-county set-up and there is enough to be doing and keeping you busy without giving out about rules as much you don’t like them. It’s a constant job that you’re thinking about night and day and the last thing you’re going to be drawing on yourself is trying to convince people in office or positions that a rule is wrong.

“Officials are happy to retain the status quo if nobody is making a big song and dance but they have to ask those at the coalface exactly what they think of it. I would genuinely have no problem in saying that I've yet to meet anyone who speaks positively about the advanced mark.”

Nothing Ó Sé has seen over the last three seasons has convinced him that the advanced mark has merit. "The same argument I made against it when it came in is the same I make now – it dilutes the art of defending. We brought it in to adjust to the mass defence but there is no rule that can’t do that. I know what they’re trying to do but it doesn’t do what it set out to do. Football evolves, it changes and it will bring itself forward because coaches will find ways around it.

“It has absolutely nothing to do with the mark but is the mass defence as prevalent as it was five or six years ago? No, because coaches are training their players accordingly. This rule stops the game, upsets the speed of it. The game would be a lot better spectacle without this mark.

"Stats will be thrown out and claims made that the mark has been a benefit to football when it simply hasn’t. It’s the top teams who are changing it. Are Galway, Kerry, Dublin ultra-defensive teams? No. Derry will have to add to their game and come up with something different if they are to progress.”

Along with Ó Sé, Jim McGuinness, Jim Gavin, Paul Mannion, Colm Collins, Kevin McStay, Colm Boyle, Noelle Healy, Pat McEnaney, Anthony Moyles, Dick Clerkin, Diarmuid O’Connor (Mayo) and Jack McCaffrey are among those who have criticised the advanced mark.

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