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Frank Roche: New rules fail to make their mark as managers vent fury

THE experimental playing rules have received a distinctly lukewarm reaction after the first weekend of inter-county football action, with claims that the 'mark' could actually slow down the game and complaints about the new hand-passing rule too.

Pat Gilroy may have welcomed the new 11-metre distance for penalty kicks, given that Dublin converted two of them against Wexford, but otherwise he wasn't enamoured. "To be honest with you, I don't understand the tinkering around with it when what was done last year (with disciplinary rules) was fairly radical and then they were thrown out, so leave it for a year or two and see is everything okay," the Dublin boss suggested. "Everyone seemed to be happy with it (last year's championship) and then these are launched on us."

This reporter counted just three 'marks' during the Dublin-Wexford O'Byrne Cup clash, but Gilroy believes that both the mark and new punched pass could have the unintended effect of slowing down the game. His Wexford counterpart, Jason Ryan, echoed those fears. ""You can see it slowing down rather than speeding up," he said. "People say hurling is really exciting because it's fast; you want football to be fast so the mark, if it slows down the game, I think it would be very disappointing. And with the fist pass, it does slow down the game ever so slightly ... time will tell."

Kildare's Kieran McGeeney was more dismissive of the mark, suggesting it would make the game more stop-stop, whereas Kerry boss Jack O'Connor had "no major problems" with the mark but is worried about implementation of the new fist pass edict. "I can't see how referees will bring consistency to that. If referees blow all the illegal hand-passes, you'll have no flow at all," he warned.

"The bottom line is there's no big skill in punch-passing. If anything this is going to slow down the game ... I'm all for blowing if the open pass isn't executed right. It's a much slicker pass and I think this new one is going to cause problems."

Mayo's John O'Mahony was willing to give the new rules "a period of time" to see how they work, but he viewed the hand-pass rule as the most contentious one. "I think the confusion is still there. There were a few hand-passes that were pulled up that looked okay to me," O'Mahony said after Mayo's two-point success against NUI Galway.

Cavan's Tom Carr went even further, claiming the hand-pass will "cause huge problems. It is so fast that the referee won't be able to pick up on every infringement," he added after Cavan's two-point defeat to Donegal in the McKenna Cup.