The traditional explanation of Gaelic football: "a game for those not good enough to play hurling".
The most regal of Irish sports has always enjoyed a certain superiority over its Gaelic counterpart when it comes to the spectacle, too: note the desperate, existential wailing over the introduction of sweepers in last year's hurling championship, with more than one acerbic "its's like watching a game of football" comment peppering the analysis, before Galway, Kilkenny, and Tipp did their thing in Croke Park.
Jim McGuinness, however, believes a new rule in Gaelic football is helping to close the gap between the two sports, from an aesthetic level at least. The mark was introduced to Gaelic football this year, and to now has been notable for not causing anguish and outrage among the football community: it has not met the hysteria usually reserved for experimental rules, like the sin-bin or black card.
Writing in his consistently excellent Irish Times columns today, McGuinnes was in thrall to Down's ambush of Monaghan in Armagh on Saturday evening, and reflected that the mark has helped to improve the spectacle of Championship games:
A lot of people here in Celtic look at Gaelic games. And they talk about the speed of hurling. I feel that hurling’s biggest asset is its relentlessness. It is constant. And I think that the mark has the potential to create that energy in Gaelic football because it rewards going long and there is this anticipation of who is going to win the ball. And then a snap pass and you are in the final third of the field very quickly. So it could bring the end-to-end dimension on which hurling thrives.
He gave a specific example, contrasting the Tyrone of 2003 with the team of today. In 2003, Daragh O'Sé's magnificent fielding for Kerry was largely rendered moot, as once he returned to ground, he was swallowed up by a swarm of Tyrone defenders. By contrast, now, Tyrone are content to go long with their own kick-outs: as they did with most of them against Donegal in the Ulster semi-final.
It's always worth reading the full column, and is available on the Irish Times website.