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Tyrone legend Canavan puts black mark on rule change

By Declan Bogue

It might only be a couple of months from its introduction, but Tyrone's former All-Ireland winning captain Peter Canavan has labelled the 'mark' rule change as "a farce".

Canavan believes the stated objectives of the rule change - to revive and increase instances of high-fielding - are misplaced.

"It's a change made for the sake of making a change. I don't think it has been well thought through," he told The Belfast Telegraph.

"There will be marks, okay, the majority of them will not be high catches, they will be chest, or lower.

"It is going to slow down our game. It's going to give time for players to get bodies behind the ball. And, in some cases, teams may well elect to give the mark away because some of the big lads might not be great kick passers."

As a member of a team that made up for their lack of high fielders by other means, Canavan added: "It devalues our game. It's not our traditional game and it is going to take away from it. I just believe that it is a decision that is going to hinder our game and not promote it as a free-flowing spectacle."

The Errigal Ciaran man is continuing in his role as selector for Feargal Logan's under-21 side as they mount a defence to their Ulster and All-Ireland titles, and also feels extremely disappointed with the decision at Congress to re-grade the competition as an under-20 tournament, with no senior county players allowed to participate.

"How can you take a competition seriously, when you don't have your best players?" he said.

As a player, Canavan won the All-Ireland at under-21 level in 1991 and 1992.

His passion for the competition is understandable, but he also speaks with authority as a teacher and coach in Holy Trinity, Cookstown, when he spells out the pitfalls in the minor grade also becoming an under-17 competition.

"In terms of player welfare, what is going to happen now up here is that the lads who are doing AS exams are going to be asked to take part in the under-17 competition," he said.

"That's still in the middle of their exams. When they get to upper sixth, the majority of them will be playing in an under-20 county panel. They are still going to be faced with the pressure of training.

"For so many, it doesn't really alleviate workload in any shape or form."

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