Is the return of the 'Mark' futile?

The rule was introduced at the start of the year.

Is the return of the 'Mark' futile?

Ireland's Darren Hughes and Gary Brennan field a high ball in the 2015 Internatioal Rules series against Australia. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

This season's Allianz Football League will see the return of the 'Mark' for the first time since 2010.

The rule was reintroduced at the start of January, and has been used in all four interprovincial pre-season competitions in recent weeks. One player who has used it this month has been Monaghan's Darren Hughes. The Scotstown star has featured in some Dr. McKenna Cup games, where the rule has been trialled.

Speaking on Wednesday in Dublin at the eir Sport launch of their Allianz League coverage, Hughes admitted he was unsure what good the rule will do in the upcoming season. In the Dr. McKenna Cup, he has already seen teams changing their tactics.

"We’ve made numerous marks in games, but that’s come from teams retreating straight away", Hughes revealed. "We’ve played on most of the time. It hasn’t had any major impact on any games we’ve player. The opposition have marked plenty of balls too."

"The one advantage is that if you win the opposition kick-out, you have the four steps, where you cannot be touched, so you’re making ground into their territory so it’s one advantage, but it’s not going to impose teams to kick it out further."

Monaghan's Darren Hughes. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

When asked if he felt the new rule would change tactics when it comes to kickouts, the Scotstown farmer said that the likes of Dublin, who have excelled with short kickouts, will be able to alter their plans.

"I’ve seen Stephen Cluxton’s short kickouts going 50 or 60 yards plenty of times and the likes of Diarmuid Connolly or Paul Flynn catching it. We have goalkeepers who have that capability too, and have done it. Does it make any difference? No. You still have to catch the ball and are a long way from goals."

While the rule is returning after a seven-year absence, Hughes (who has used the 'Mark' in International Rules, is delighted to see it return, but he feels it may not provide the GAA with the changes they want.

"I’d have been an advocate of it from the start. I often wondered in 2010 why they got rid of it again. There was never any problems with it… Was it an area of the game that needed to be addressed? Probably not. Is it going to change what [the GAA] thought it would change. Probably not."

"You’re not going to kick the ball 50-50 in the last couple of minutes of a game with the hope of getting a 'Mark'. It’s still no advantage to you, and the chances of getting it are slim. You’re still going to play the percentages and keep possession."

Monaghan’s Darren Hughes was in Dublin to announce details of eir Sport's expanded coverage of the 2017 Allianz Leagues. eir Sport will broadcast a total of 23 live games, an increase from the 17 which have previously been broadcast. eir Sport will also be the first Irish broadcaster to show three live games simultaneously with the overall coverage including five live triple headers.