How can we speed Gaelic football? How can we make it a faster spectacle and more enjoyable for the spectators to witness? That are a few of the questions I have heard over the last couple of years and too be honest I was getting quite excited about this type of talk. From an attacker’s point of view, this is exactly what I wanted to hear. What happened? We brought in an attacking mark.
Some will say that it has not slowed the game down too much. So far that is, but give it time and it will. Smart inside forwards, like Conor McManus and David Clifford have already got the hang of it but when it is given adequate time to be coached on the training field, it could have a draining effect on the speed the game is played at. I played enough times in the International Rules where the mark is a pivotal rule, and I enjoyed using it to be honest in this type of contest but I can guarantee you this, it is not good for Gaelic football. The natural instinct of a forward should be to take his man on once he receives the ball and to try and create an opportunity in front of goal. It should never be to stop, raise your hand and hope that the referee is on the same wavelength to gain a mark. The other aspect of this is that it simply does not guarantee your team a score. If a natural free taker receives the mark then the chances are, he will score. The same cannot be said for some forwards as they simply aren’t used to striking a ball over the bar from an almost static movement. It should only ever be used as a mark in the current format if you are 100% guaranteed to score from it. If anything less, play on.
I’m certainly not an expert in the medical profession, but are we also running the risk of even more cruciate injuries and the like with the sudden stop that is expected of players after excessive speed into approaching the ball. I’m only putting that one out there. It’s all about movement and pace. It’s all about the natural instinct to play on and go for a score. It should never be about stopping, even if it is only for 15 seconds.