Football referees to discuss mark introduction
Referees will meet tonight to discuss the implementation of the mark to Gaelic football and the likely roll-out of the new measure which was passed at Congress last weekend.
The option of giving a free to a player who catches a kick-out cleanly between the two 45s has been strongly criticised in some quarters.
Donegal manager Rory Gallagher, one of the strongest opponents of the Football Review Committee's attempt to introduce the mark three years ago, is keen to see the rules being left as they are, pointing to the quality of games over the weekend.
But he accepted that, because of the way Gaelic football has evolved over the last number of years, especially around the kick-out, the impact may be "minimal".
Players who catch the ball will have the option of playing on immediately and that will place an onus on referees to give just enough time to allow that to happen before a call to award a free is made.
The trend in recent years has been for referees to award frees to players who field the ball cleanly and are then surrounded by opponents.
Head of referees development Sean Walsh doesn't believe it will be too problematic. He feels that things won't change too much.
"Many teams will continue to work the short kick-out," he predicted.
However, the mark will give teams with better fielders the option to go longer in an effort to gain territory.
The next Central Council meeting is likely to push the introduction of the mark back until 2017 despite having the facility to introduce it within a month of the motion being passed.
Meanwhile, the GAA's efforts to account for time wasted through substitutions and goalkeepers coming upfield to take frees are working, Walsh feels.
After five rounds of League action, they have been able to more accurately standardise how much added time, on top of normal stoppages, is required. Prior to the League it was advised that 20 seconds would be added on for each substitution, 20 seconds for a goalkeeper coming forward for a free and 30 seconds for a Hawk-Eye intervention.
Last Sunday in Ballybofey, Barry Cassidy added on four minutes of added time, less than the amount of time it took for Mayo's third-quarter penalty to be taken. There were nine second- half substitutions and two forays forward by Mayo goalkeeper Rob Hennelly.
But Walsh is satisfied that the correct amount of time is now being played.
"Because we have advisers at every match we believe it is working very well, almost to the tee," he said.
"The initial thought was there might be 20 seconds per substitution but having analysed that, less time is actually required. They're taking between 10 and 14 seconds.
"Most games are working out at two added minutes in the first half and four in the second half."