Moyna 'disconcerted' by mark trial aimed at tackling trend of short kick-outs
The proliferation of short kick-outs has convinced the GAA's Standing Rules Committee that the time is right to seek into introduce a mark in Gaelic football.
The committee chairman Jarlath Burns, a strong advocate of the measure when it failed at Congress five years ago, has pointed to the increased use of shorter restarts since the last 'mark' trial as the main driver of change.
A motion to award a free for a kick-out caught cleanly between the two 45s will be forwarded to Congress after weekend Central Council approval.
"Shorts kick-outs were at 32pc this year. When the mark was last on the agenda that figure was in the region of 15 to 20pc," Burns pointed out.
"As an association it is our duty to promote skill and one of the greatest skills is the high catch. The Football Review Committee found that the majority who responded to their questionnaire felt it was the single most exciting thing that made the game attractive."
Burns said it was important to run a trial in a "high stakes" competition and that's why the Sigerson and Trench Cups have been targeted. But he said if the third level organisation were opposed to that it wouldn't be forced upon them.
Strong opposition to that was registered by the independent.ie Sigerson Cup hosts and the reigning champions yesterday.
The manager of the DCU side which claimed the title in Cork earlier this year, Professor Niall Moyna, believes it will "devalue the competition" and admits he is "disconcerted" by the trial proposal.
University of Ulster GAA president Tommy Joe Farrell is also against the idea which will be the third time in the last 18 years that a GAA rules group will seek to introduce a mark.
For the 2010 league an identical provision was made but didn't succeed at Congress while it was also trialled in the 1998 pre-season competitions when a kick-out cleanly caught in any area of the field was rewarded with a free.
Burns will be mindful that playing rules changes have very limited success over the last 25 years since the free and sideline from the hands were permitted in 1990.
Moyna said he was "mystified" by an attempt to mess around with such a prestigious competition as the Sigerson Cup. "It's a championship, it's one of our main competitions," he said.
Farrell is not in favour of using a 'championship' competition of trial. "I am not in itself against the mark, but I am very much against dropping something in, into a knock-out competition, without giving players and managers a chance to actually experiment with it beforehand," he said at yesterday's launch in Belfast.
"Remember, we will be playing after Christmas and our first three matches will be in the McKenna Cup. Imagine trying to adjust from normal rules in two weeks' time from not having a mark, to having a mark. I think it is most unfair on players."
The incorporation of the time it takes for substitutes to be introduced into added time was another proposal brought by the Burns group for Central Council approval last weekend.
Pat Daly, Croke Park's head of games development and research, believes any further changes to be proposed by the group of which he is a member will be based on evidence that looks at developing trends.
"Whether it's handpassing or back-passing or fellas committing black card offences at specific times, you look at those trends and ask how are we going to address them."