THE GAA’S new playing rules certainly weren’t the flavour of the month in Ballybofey on Sunday.
The new rules were on view for the first time in Donegal’s 1-12 to 0-14 win over Monaghan in the Dr McKenna Cup.
The ‘forward mark’ was one of the eagerly-awaited changes, but there was limited success at MacCumhaill Park. Kieran Hughes got a point from a mark in the second half.
In the first Christopher McGuinness caught a ball, but didn’t signal a mark. All players in the vicinity stopped momentarily before realising that play continued and McGuinness took a point.
“I felt there was no real issue or need for change,” Declan Bonner, the Donegal manager who has been a strong opponent of the new rules, said.
“I think that the game is moving in the right direction and has been for the last 12 or 18 months. Of course you have to defend when you don’t have the ball, but when you’re attacking there are a lot of bodies going forward.
“There was one in the first half where our defenders stopped. He didn’t call the mark so we were entitled to tackle him. It is confusing and it’s difficult enough for referees without throwing extra things at them.”
Shaun Patton fell foul of the new rule that states kick-outs much travel 13 metres when a pass to Paul Brennan was pulled up as illegal.
“I’m not a fan of the new rules myself,” the Donegal goalkeeper said.
“From my own perspective, the kick-out from the 20 slows things down a bit. I don’t think there was anything wrong with where it was at. The inside mark will be a difficult one as for a defender, you can’t give a forward a yard and then they have the opportunity to kick a free score. I’m not agreeing with it.
“There was one in the second half where there was a fantastic kick from the far right. In a normal game, he’d be shown back out by the defence and wouldn’t get the score.”
Donegal midfielder Michael Langan was sin-binned – another new introduction – late in the game when he was shown a black card.
Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney is broadly in favour of the ‘mark’ rule.
“It’s not tried and tested yet,” McEnaney said.
“You would feel teams can take an advantage of it but it has to be trained, it has to be coached, has to be worked on. We got two marks in that second half, Kieran Hughes scored a point from one.
“I think it could help the game but it could slow it up too. It’s very hard to call the mark. I would have thought it would be a plus for the game to test other defences, but it’ll test our defence as well. It’s certainly worth a trial.”