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Declan Bogue: Offensive mark needs to join handpass rule on the scrapheap

By Declan Bogue

Perhaps it comes with being an iconic captain, one that led a team to an unprecedented level of success while maintaining an aura of total independence, but there are more than a few character traits Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney seems to share with former Manchester United hero Roy Keane.

To that list, you can add a really sharp wit. It is the side that McGeeney keeps hidden from the public gaze, but this is a son of a former Bard of Armagh and there is plenty of quirkiness under the stony visage.

When conversation turned to Armagh's trip to Kildare this weekend, the inquisitor said to Orchard County boss McGeeney: "You would be 'well got' about Kildare…" referring to the years McGeeney managed Kildare to a level of respectability.

"I used to be 'well got' about Armagh too," was McGeeney's deadpan response.

Anyway, all that aside, McGeeney made the most interesting of all the post-McKenna Cup final discussion topics when he focused on the offensive mark.

In the closing stages, and with Armagh just one point away from taking the match to extra-time, Tyrone ace Kyle Coney produced the kind of pass that some feel is now gone from the game.

Cathal McShane caught it on his chest, therefore winning an offensive mark. The problem for McGeeney is that the rule states you have 15 seconds to kick the ball.

McShane took more than that, but he was perfectly fine with that as a number of Armagh players surrounded him and would not retreat the required number of yards.

And the defenders were right to hang around too. In the first half, Jamie Clarke caught a ball and while the crowd thought he would take it as a free-kick, he continued to play on, which is another option.

This leaves defenders again in an impossible place. If an attacker plays on, he must be tackled by a defender. Not to do so would leave a forward with a clear run on goal if they wanted to play on.

Yet if the referee thinks a forward is taking an offensive mark, he is being illegally tackled while the ball is dead.

All of that is on top of trying to tell if the ball actually travelled 20m or not.

The focus up until now had been on the ridiculous handpass restriction, which has been axed. There's a lot of clarification needed on the mark before it disappears too.

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