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ASK THE PLAYERS – Three footballers debate the pros and cons of the attacking mark

The attacking mark was used during the 2020 season to differing levels of success. Three players, Declan Lynch, Shane McGuigan and Jason McGee, have three contrasting opinions of the positives and negatives of the new rule.

Shane McGuigan Derry

THE  advanced mark had a role to play in last year’s Derry Senior Championship final between Sleacht Néill and Magherafelt.

An exciting moment came in the game when defender Conor McAllister won a mark close to the halfway line.

He was able to knock it over from that remarkable distance much to the surprise of many in the crowd.

Shane McGuigan, a good friend of McAllister, pointed out that in that occasion, the mark was a good thing.

“There was a big moment in the first half against Magherafelt and my mate Conor McAllister won a mark and scored it.

“That was a big thing last year as Paul Bradley had told us that every player had to be able to take a score no matter where they play on the pitch.

“Everyone needs to be able to take a score.”

McGuigan is a forward so he is much more likely to be the man taking the marks. Yet while the rule should give him an advantage over defenders who like to hit hard after the forward  receives possession, McGuigan recognises that the rule is not perfect.

“The advanced mark has got its positives and negatives. If I have my forward’s hat on I would say that it is easy to take the mark sometimes. But I would say that it takes away the skill of taking a man on, or beating a man. I also think it slows the game down a bit.”

His opinion on whether it should stay or go is that the players just have to accept the current situation and deal with it.

“I think it is something that we need to get on with. I do think that teams are focusing in on it, seeing that it as an advantage for a forwards and they are trying to maximise that opportunity.”

 

Declan Lynch, Antrim

THE  attacking  mark has not worked according to Antrim defender Declan Lynch.

Lynch is a regular campaigner for the Saffrons and has been playing senior intercounty football since 2012.

He has seen the game evolve in that time as defensive systems have become more refined.

He thinks that the attacking mark is not the answer to the GAA’s hopes of encouraging more attacking play.

“I think they should look at it again as it hasn’t addressed the issue.

“As a defender it takes the enjoyment of tackling away. All a player has to do now is nip a yard in front of you and if it is a good ball in he catches it and you can’t tackle.

“I know the theory, and why it was brought in, but I don’t think it is doing what it was brought in to do. It rewards a short kick-pass.

“It is not taking away the crowded defences or teams that are building their attacks from short hand-passes. It is not dealing with the issue it was brought in to deal with.

“If they could look at it in a different way, or bring a different approach. I am not sure if it is beneficial. Was there any team that took real advantage of it? Towards the end of the year perhaps teams were using it. Dublin, being Dublin, they were using it as a 20-yard kick-pass that gave them a free shot.”

Lynch did accept that changes have been brought in to help the defender, such as the defensive mark, but he doesn’t see how that can benefit teams.

“I don’t see the benefit of it as a defender. I think it hinders defenders. I know there is there is a defensive mark. Realistically when you are a defender when do you get the chance to take a ball clean.

“As a defender you are usually hanging off the back of a forward trying to get your hand in any way you can.”

 

Jason McGee, Donegal

SOME  players might get frustrated about how the mark gives forwards an advantage.

Other players think that it stops the heavy fouling. But there is also a group of players who just accept that the change is there and then try to adapt to it.

One of those players is Donegal’s Jason McGee.

The Cloughaneely man, who operates at midfield for the  Tir Chonaill county, reckons that there is no point in complaining about the new rule and that players just have to accept and move on.

“I try not to think too much about it. I just try to play what we are given. I would prefer if everything was just left the way that it was.”

However, he does understand the strengths and weaknesses of the new advanced or attacking mark rule that was brought in last year.

He sees that there are some areas of the game that are likely to be eroded by a rule that rewards teams who have players who can get free from their markers.

“The advanced mark has taken away the part of the forward catching the ball and taking on his man. I think that has gone, but I suppose teams will work on it and try to use it to their advantage.”

McGee is a big, imposing player himself, and had been known to dominate players at club and county. So he can see himself how a rule like the attacking mark could be taken advantage of by teams.

He thinks that after one season of the mark being used, teams will develop their use of it as the years progress.

“If you are looking at a team that has big men inside then it is going to encourage them to kick pass.”

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