Please, please, please. Keep them coming!
There seems to be a debate raging over the validity of having a penalty shootout decide the winner of a championship game and I for one cannot get my head around it.
The trend began with Mayo defeating Leitrim back in January after a round of spot-kicks in their FBD League clash. However, the method, borrowed from Association Football, has garnered a lot more attention over the last number of weeks after two provincial club championship ties were settled via the penalty route.
First, it was Tyrone champions Trillick, who fell victim to Derrygonnelly before St. Patrick’s of Wicklow were denied a giant-killing victory over Portlaoise last Sunday.
St. Patrick’s manager Casey O’Brien labelled the defeat as a cruel way to exit the championship following his side’s defeat.
“It was a horrible way to go out,” he told Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1. “We’re still unbeaten but we’re out of the competition.
“It was a great battle there today with ourselves and Portlaoise. It looked like we were going to get over the line but a draw after extra-time and then losing on penalties is a cruel way to go out.
“It’s not the right way to go out. It’s terrible to put that sort of pressure on amateur players. I don’t agree with it at all.
Of course, it is a cruel way to exit the championship but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
When it comes to any game in any sport, there is always a hero and a villain.
Is missing a spot-kick in sudden death really any different to missing a free-kick or a one-on-one in the last minute of the game?
The reasoning that it is too cruel doesn’t wash simply because there are plenty of other ways to lose a game and each one of them is as cruel as the next.
How different is it to missing a penalty in normal time?
Speaking to the great Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh last week, the legendary broadcaster regaled an old story from the 1953 All-Ireland final when Bill McCorry missed a penalty against Kerry that denied Armagh a maiden Sam Maguire triumph.
For the remainder of his days, the Wolfe Tones club man was widely recognised as the man who missed a penalty in that All-Ireland final.
Having your whole career defined by a penalty miss, now that’s cruel but McCorry got on with it. In fact, he owned it to a large extent.
Your health is your wealth at the end of the day. While the club championship is of the utmost importance to the large majority of GAA folk, the beauty of our national games is that the parish and its people come before all.
You can be rest assured the people of Trillick won’t hold Lee Brennan’s sudden death penalty miss against him nor will St. Patrick’s hold Thomas Kelly to account over his miss on Sunday.
It’s a cruel way to lose, that much cannot be disputed, but tell me a way of losing that isn’t cruel?
The penalty shootout method is also a sure-fire way of helping to combat the fixture log-jam that engulfs the club scene on an annual basis.
Again, O’Brien lamented the decision saying his team would have been happy to replay the game midweek. However, this misses the point totally.
Donegal champions Naomh Conaill were forced into a second replay against current Ulster kingpins Gaoth Dobhair before eventually toppling Kevin Cassidy and Co at the third time of asking.
Their reward for winning the county title ended up being an Ulster quarter-final clash four days later.
At this time of the year, clubs are having to play an absurd amount of games on an almost weekly basis if they wish to back up a county title with provincial glory and so on.
When we start factoring in extra-time and replays, something that inevitably does happen, this becomes extremely unfair to these amateur athletes.
A penalty shootout is the best option of trying to combat the annual minefield that is the club calendar.
Not only does it ensure a greater structure and flow to the club championships but it’s a fair and just means of deciding the winner.
There’s a great level of skill involved in nailing a spot-kick as well as saving them.
For the most part, players won’t shy away from stepping up and goalkeepers will relish the opportunity to become a hero and lest we forget it is extremely entertaining and exciting for spectators who are in attendance.
The spectator cannot be lost in this issue either. Gaelic football has had its detractors over the last decade and while things do look to be taking a turn for the better, there can be no denying that a penalty kick competition adds some excitement to the occasion.
When have you ever watched a Champions League game and thought, ‘I hope there’s a goal scored in extra-time’? Exactly.