Friday 17 January 2020

'Only time will tell' - Mayo star Diarmuid O'Connor gives his verdict on 'advanced mark'

Diarmuid O'Connor. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Diarmuid O'Connor. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Mayo star Diarmuid O'Connor has added his voice to the growing opposition to the new 'advanced mark' rule, insisting that he doesn't "know if we should be rewarding forwards for catching a ball".

O'Connor, who was Mayo captain in 2019, has joined the likes of Dublin star Jack McCaffrey and Meath boss Andy McEntee in voicing his opposition to the new rule in recent weeks.

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"I was disappointed to see it coming in," the Ballintubber man said at the launch of the 2020 Allianz National Football Leagues in Croke Park.

"I didn't think there was a need for change. But listen, it's in now, it is what it is and we just have to get on with it and practise it and make sure you're good at it when the time comes. I was disappointed but we just have to get on with it.

"I don't know if there was too much of a change in last year's league but the fact that we know it's in for championship now, there'll probably be more emphasis on it in training.

"More lads will be practising frees - anyone could be a free-taker now if they catch a mark so you might have a free to win a game, so there'll be more practising before and after training.

Change

"Only time will tell how much it will change the game.

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"Most of the lads I've talked to really didn't see the need for change. I don't know if we should be rewarding forwards for catching a ball, but as I said, it's in now and we just have to try and ensure we're the best as can be at it."

Mayo get their 2020 campaign under way on Sunday when they face Galway in the FBD League semi-final in Elverys MacHale Park.

Midfielder Tom Parsons will return to the county's starting side for the first time since sustaining a horror injury in May 2018.

Parsons' career hung in the balance after picking up the injury against Galway, which saw him dislocate his knee and rupture three ligaments.

However, he has worked tirelessly to get back into the team and made his competitive return to action in last year's All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin.

And on Sunday he makes his first start in more than 18 months as Padraic Joyce's Galway visit Castlebar.

Manager James Horan is without a host of players due to Sigerson Cup and club commitments but has mixed youth with experience with the likes of Rob Hennelly, Patrick Durcan, O'Connor and Kevin McLoughlin all set to start.

Mayo (FBD league v Galway) - R Hennelly; J Stretton, J McCormack, B Harrison; P O'Hora, M Plunkett, P Durcan; T Parsons, M Murray; B Walsh, C Loftus, J Flynn; K McLoughlin, B Reape, D O'Connor.

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