An unfamiliar ending to club championships


The Tweet from the Oran GAA account said it all last Saturday as the Mulryan Intermediate Football Championship Replay ended in deadlock after extra-time at Dr. Hyde Park…

  It read: ‘Intermediate Final Replay Full Time Oran 0-14 Tulsk 0-14. Now we will have a penalty shoot out to decide – sweet Jesus’.

  Cue minor bedlam on Twitter as Gaelic football fans from near and far sought a live feed of this historic moment in Roscommon football.

  There was immense excitement and just as much confusion as those following on Twitter struggled to keep track of the updates.

  Tulsk eventually won 4-2 and congratulations to them, but you’d need a heart of stone not to commiserate with a plucky Oran side who defied most, if not all, pre-final predictions to put Gerry Lohan’s men to the pin of their collective collars over two energy-sapping games of football.

  With the dust now settled and the Jimmy Murray Cup ensconced up the N5 for winter, it would seem the prevailing opinion is that a penalty shootout is no way to decide a championship in Gaelic football. And while I agree there is something very unsettling in seeing a crucial football match decided as if it was a mere Champions League Final, I can understand the difficulty County Boards find themselves in when it comes to fulfilling club fixtures.

  As the Connacht Quarter-Final is down for decision this coming weekend, there was little or no time to go again. With player welfare in mind, a second replay on Bank Holiday Monday was probably too much, while any game later in the week would have put the Roscommon champions at a distinct disadvantage against Leitrim Gaels.

  Playing Devil’s Advocate from a purely technical point of view, penalties are part and parcel of Gaelic football, so in fact it’s not that outlandish to consider them as a means of breaking a deadlock.

  Also, having taken a number of them myself, albeit to varying degrees of success, I certainly wouldn’t subscribe to the view that they are merely ‘a lottery’. The odds are still stacked in favour of the taker provided he/she is of decent technique and can stay relatively calm. And, of course, big matches have been decided by a placed ball before.

  All of that being said, if last Saturday proved anything it’s that the GAA calendar needs a proper roadmap, preferably one that gives right of way to the local parishes that make our national game what it is.