Joe Brolly slams 'ugly mark' as 'cop-out' which fails to deal with the real problem in football
Former All-Ireland winner and outspoken pundit Joe Brolly has slammed the decision of the GAA congress last weekend to introduce the 'mark' into gaelic football.
The Sunday Independent columnist has joined the chorus of criticism from current and former players since the controversial move was made on Sunday.
A player who catches the ball outside the '45' from a kick-out can either call a mark or play on.
Whether it will be in place for this year's championship remains to be seen. It will be discussed at Central Council in three weeks' time when a decision on the timing of its introduction will be taken.
It's most likely to be deferred until next January as changing a rule in mid season would not go down well with players or managers.
Former Dublin midfielder Ciaran Whelan described the plan as 'off-the-wall' on Monday because of the rule has not been extensively trialled and will be difficult for referees to rule upon.
Brolly believes that the rule change has ignored, and will have no impact on, the real issue in the GAA, blanket defences.
“It’s a total cop-out. High catching is not the problem, it’s never been the problem in the game. It’s the blanket defence that’s the problem and that’s made the game unwatchable. There’s not a problem with high catching," he told Today on Sean O'Rourke this morning.
"The problem is what happens when you catch the ball. The big problem is the blanket defence and this does nothing at all to diffuse that problem.
“A team can wait for you to catch the ball, run without taking the mark, and then foul you. If you win the mark you can use that to delay the game. It’s a total cop-out.
"It’s classic GAA window-dress, which is, ‘well we’ve done something, we know it’s really nothing and we know it’s not going to have any impact whatsoever on the real problem on the game but sure there you are’.
The Derry native doesn't see the mark having an effect on the modern inter-county game as most kick-outs no longer pass the '45 metre line and when they do, the opposition already has their defence in place.
“100% of the time, if a short kickout is on, a goalkeeper is going to take a short kickout. "The problem is that defences are already massed up by the time the kickout is taken in the modern game.
“The whole purpose of winning the ball in the midfield is to try and move the ball forward quickly. There’s no point in moving the ball forward quickly because when you catch a ball in the midfield in the current game it’s too late to do anything anyway because the blanket defence is already in place.
“The mark is ugly. You take a mark, it stops the game. This has been an act of politics. It’s not real, it’s not going to effect any change. It’s going to be irksome and annoying. It’s not promoting a skill of the game at all.
"The answer to the blanket defence is that the ball must be kicked out across the 45 and for the kickouts only the four midfielders can be betweeen the 45s and that the ball isn't in play until one of those midfielders has touched it. It kills the blanket defence and it makes the game dynamic."