Tommy Dickson/INPHO Fermanagh champions Derrygonnelly won their Ulster semi-final on Sunday on penalties.
Spot kicks

Clubs opposed but penalty shootouts to remain in place for Ulster GAA club semi-finals

Two matches in Ulster last weekend concluded with penalty shootouts.

DESPITE OPPOSITION FROM winners and losers alike towards penalty shootouts, the Ulster Council have insisted that ‘finish on the day protocols’ will apply in the provincial semi-finals.

On Saturday evening, Tyrone’s Rock lost a penalty shootout to Donegal champions Buncrana after normal and extra time of their Ulster Junior semi-final.

The same applied the following day in Enniskillen when Fermanagh’s Derrygonnelly Harps ended up knocking out Trillick of Tyrone when Lee Brennan’s penalty came back off the post.

Public Relations Officer for the Ulster Council, Declan Woods, stated, “My understanding is, this was the recommended directive coming out of Congress this year. That ‘finish on the day’ would come in and we would move away from free-kicks.”

Free-kicks were in the limelight recently when Antrim county board chairman Ciaran McCavana called a halt to a free-kick competition after Lamh Dhearg and Portglenone had drawn for a second time, thereby granting a third game.

What wasn’t publicised at the time was how the losers would have had grounds for an appeal as free-kicks had been scrubbed from the rule book, replaced by penalties.

The method is in place in other provinces and counties, as Woods explained.

“Meath had shootouts, there were some instances of penalties in the Meath championship I can remember. Overall, I am not sure it was adapted everywhere.

“Clearly, Donegal didn’t put it into their by-laws because they weren’t in a position to implement it.

“So it was at the discretion of the two clubs (Naomh Conaill and Gaoth Dobhair) and Naomh Conaill wouldn’t agree, Gaoth Dobhair would agree to it, so they had to keep going on with another replay.”

The method will be “absolutely” in place for the semi-finals, said Woods, but finals will go to a replay if required.

The Ulster Council carried a page in their matchday programmes for the weekend explaining the rules of the shootouts.

Asked why there was a need to host penalty kick shootouts, Woods continued, “This was a recommendation to try to improve the flow of fixtures. There are still a lot of games going on, U20 competitions going on in counties, leagues to be finished.

“Ordinarily, the teams still left in the Ulster club could be holding up other teams in their domestic leagues. And it is not fair. If there was a means to streamline it, from the perspective if it shortens the calendar for players and clubs, I have no issue with it.”

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