Thursday 8 December 2016

'Football would benefit from the 'mark''

Published 11/04/2015 | 02:30

"Since Jim McGuinness took over (in Donegal), it's gone extremely defensive. Donegal took it to extremes and now it has spread across all of Ireland."

Michael Shields favours the introduction of the 'mark' to Gaelic football to improve the game.

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The Cork captain contends that it would quicken up the game as the player who made the catch would be allowed to play the ball away unimpeded, rather than being surrounded by a number of opposition tacklers.

"Anything that speeds up the game would be good," he says.

Shields also believes that Cork may have to tweak their approach to accommodate a more defensive game plan in pursuit of all-Ireland glory.

Cork's style would always have been high on creativity, but it may now be a case of 'if you can't beat them, join them' for the Rebels.

"When I came into the Cork team, it was more or less 15 on 15, with maybe one man dropping back from time to time," he says.

"Since Jim McGuinness took over (in Donegal), it's gone extremely defensive. Donegal took it to extremes and now it has spread across all of Ireland.

"We are probably one of the few teams to finish up playing attacking football. If we're to go further, we'll definitely have to use some bit of a defensive style.

While there's considerable disquiet over the growth in negativity in the game, Shields enjoys watching how teams take on defensive systems.

"I find it intriguing to watch how teams go about counter-acting defensive set-ups. I'm looking at it differently, so I can understand how spectators might not enjoy it," he says.

Having spent a season playing Australian Rules football with Carlton, he understands how defensive/attacking patterns work in that game. It has not become bogged down to the same degree as Gaelic football, which he attributes to the different pitch sizes.

"You can get defensive in the Australian game but the pitch is so big you will still have a lot of scores. There's always room to exploit. It's not same with GAA, pitches because they are not as big," he says.

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