The UCC team celebrating their Fitzgibbon Cup win last March. INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan
Novel Approach

Shootouts to potentially decide Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup semi-finals

A new concept could be used to settle the outcome of stalemates that arise in third-level GAA games.

NEXT YEAR’S FITZGIBBON and Sigerson Cup semi-finals will feature free-taking shootouts to determine a winner in the eventuality that teams are still tied after extra-time has been played.

Higher Education GAA chiefs have opted to introduce the novel idea in order to find a solution to a potential dilemma that could arise.

The scenario would see five different players from each team taking a free, from 45 yards out in football and 65 yards out in hurling. Only points will be deemed a score and goalkeepers are not allowed between the posts during the shootout.

The third-level competitions traditionally have their semi-finals and finals played off over a Friday and a Saturday.

But the chairman of the third-level body Ray O’Brien told that the new ruling is being brought in as they cannot afford to hold replays for the semi-finals as fixture pressures means the competitions must be completed that weekend.

“Between exams that players face and the amount of them in inter-county teams, we have to get everything done on our finals weekend. So we’re bringing this in only for our semi-final matches.

“That’s simply because we need to get them finished on a Friday with the finals the next day on the Saturday. It’s not fair on teams to keep playing periods of extra-time when one of them will then have to play the following day as well.

“We just went for something a bit different. We’re hoping it’ll never come down to this and the games will be finished in normal time but at least this way we have something in place should that problem arise.

“With Congress changes, meaning replays have to be considered after extra-time, we went looking at the rules. We sought a derogation from the rule to bring in this shootout and there was no objections from any colleges or the GAA.

“It’s something similar to Féile now in that all games have to be completed in the one day as we can’t afford to go to replays. It’ll be interesting to see how it works if we have to bring it into play to decide a game.”

In recent years, extra-time has been a regular feature in the third-level competitions with the 2008, 2010 and 2012 Fitzgibbon Cup finals all requiring additional periods to secure an outcome.

The new ruling will also apply for the lower-tier competitions in hurling (the Ryan Cup and the Fergal Maher Cup) and the lower-tier competitions in football (the Trench Cup and the Corn na Mac Leinn).

This year’s hurling finals weekend will take place in Galway and will be hosted by GMIT while the football finals weekend will be held by Athlone IT.

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