What if the mark had been introduced at the weekend?

The new rule would have made little difference this weekend...

Dublin v Monaghan

Conor McManus made the most spectacular catch of the game, outfielding David Byrne to score the point that levelled the game in the 63rd minute. From actual kick-outs, where the rule will apply, Monaghan made a number of clean fetches, notably off Dublin restarts, in the first 25 minutes. Kieran Hughes was a reliable primary ball winner in this period before limping off.

Dublin’s aerial presence improved in the second half and they should profit from the rule long-term given Cluxton’s pinpoint kicking.

Armagh v Fermanagh

Both Armagh and Fermanagh have big men around the middle who would have profited from the mark.

Armagh midfielder Niall Grimley took a clean catch and came down with the ball but wasn’t rewarded for his skill when he was quickly surrounded in possession. Fermanagh captain Eoin Donnelly, a frequent go-to man from Erne kickouts, showed off his high fielding skills with a great catch.

Derry v Galway

One of the big decisions of Congress would have made little or no difference in Galway’s one-sided victory at Celtic Park. Both sides tended to look short from the kick-outs while Galway keeper Manus Breathnach was a frequent runner off his line, hitting half-way on more than one occasion.

There were few notable instances of high fielding, Galway favouring a short passing running game while Derry going sideways to their own detriment when a long ball may have been more beneficial.

Donegal v Mayo

There wouldn’t have been much difference had the new mark rule been introduced prior to the Division 1 fixture between Donegal and Mayo.

Mayo’s best fielder Aidan O’Shea was playing a more forward role while Donegal’s best fetcher Neil Gallagher lasted only a minute having been black-carded following his introduction. Mayo shaded the first half but breaking ball and not clean ball was their foundation stone and Donegal came good in the second.

Kerry v Down

Apart from a few fetches from the likes of Kieran Donaghy and Kevin McKernan, there wasn’t the much in the way of catches which would constitute marks. Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice questioned what benefit the new rule will have for high fielding.

“I was surprised by it. You’re probably trying to promote high fielding. You can still catch it on the full into your chest and it’s going to count as a mark. A lot of goalkeepers are specialists in drilling balls 30-40 yards into fellas’ chest so that’s not really going to promote the high fielding aspect of things.”

Laois v Tyrone

What would happen if the mark was in use in Portlaoise yesterday?

Well, Mickey Harte would have likely been spitting fire, for starters. The Tyrone manager expressed his displeasure with the idea of the mark being introduced cold prior to Saturday’s Congress and he was verbalising his discontent again after his side’s three-point win.

Watching a game like this one makes you wonder why anyone believes the mark will make a marked (pun intended) difference to the modern game.

There were only nine minutes played when Laois midfielder Brendan Quigley claimed the first clean catch from a kickout, but that was the only one all day by our reckoning. Much ado about nothing, then?


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