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McEntee: 'I wouldn't like a championship game to be decided by penalties'

Penalty shoot-outs are expected to replace free-taking competitions as the GAA’s ‘winner on the day’ concept this season.

TWO WEEKENDS OF inter-county GAA action are in the books this calendar year, and already three games have been decided by penalties in the pre-season competitions. 

James Kelly scores a penalty James Kelly scores a penalty for Mayo. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

And if it wasn’t for Joe Canning’s late heroics from a sideline cut in stoppage-time of the Walsh Cup semi-final, Galway and Dublin would have become the fourth game of 2019 to be decided by penalties. 

Ever the GAA’s great entertainers, Mayo have been involved in two of those shootouts over the past couple of weekends – beating Leitrim in the FBD League semi-final before they fell to Galway in yesterday’s decider. 

On Saturday night in Parnell Park All-Ireland champions Dublin – albeit an experimental outfit – prevailed against Meath 3-1 on penalties after the O’Byrne Cup semi-final finished level at the end of normal time. 

Penalty shootouts look set to replace the free-taking competition, which came in for 2018.

A Central Council meeting this Saturday is expected to green light a proposal from the Central Competition Controls Committee (CCCC) to bring in penalties for both hurling and football this season.

That includes knock-out league ties, All-Ireland football qualifiers, provincial club matches, and U20 and U17 knock-out championship games (apart from All-Ireland finals). In addition, penalties could be used in provincial hurling finals if they’re still level after a replay and two periods of extra-time.

Mickey Newman misses the first penalty kick Mickey Newman misses the first penalty kick. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

But not all managers are convinced that penalty shootouts are the way forward.

“I wouldn’t have been overly happy with the penalties but it does add excitement,” said Meath manager Andy McEntee after Dublin advanced on Saturday.

“I wouldn’t like a championship game to be decided like that. Another 20 minutes, I think both teams would probably have got value out of another 20 minutes.

“They would have had a chance to put on a few more players, we would have got game time into a few more players. But I’m not complaining. It is what it is, we knew that was coming and that’s the way.”

That Central Council meeting this weekend will also decide whether football’s experimental rule changes will be trialled during the Allianz Leagues.

McEntee and a host of other inter-county managers have already voiced their scepticism at the handpass rule over the last few weeks.

“We got a bit tired maybe mentally at that stage and we got caught twice in the space of a number of minutes where we hadn’t got caught the whole game prior to that,” the former All-Ireland winning club manager said.

“I’m still not a fan of it. I think it prevents goal chances. It’s supposed to be there to make the game more attractive but ultimately I don’t think it is.

Andy McEntee Meath manager Andy McEntee. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“Sin bin, we paid the price for it there tonight. But I think that’s fair, I’m okay with that. A lot of the other stuff, the mark, I’m not a huge fan of. I’d take the sin bin and add that in, the rest of them I could take or leave them really.”

The Royals begin their Division 2 campaign with a home clash against Tipperary and McEntee is clear on their goal for the league.

“Two weeks to get ready and our target is to try to get out of Division 2. Straightforward, simple as that. That’s the idea.

“We need to get our focus and our heads on that game and get ready for it.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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