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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
INPHO Derry manager Rory Galllagher.
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'Absolutely ludicrous, farcical, unfair' - Gallagher against penalty shootouts in Gaelic football
The Derry manager would prefer replays or a next score wins policy.

IN 2007, A study was undertaken into the success of penalty kicks in a soccer shoot out.

It was found that less than 60% of penalties were converted, when the team’s survival depended on that penalty being scored.

In short, if you go second in a shoot-out, you are in big bother.

Secondly, there was a separate study conducted in 2010 that outlined the three methods of taking spot-kicks.

The first method was to ignore the goalkeeper entirely, and pick your place for the ball to go.

The second was to look at the goalkeeper and react to his movements, trying to put it in the other corner.

Finally, there was the method of looking at one spot, and putting the ball in the other direction. ‘Giving him the eyes’ in other words.

The most successful? The first one. Have your mind made up, stride up purposefully and smash it where you want. The Stuart Pearce method made flesh.

Since shoot-outs became commonplace in soccer, the psychology around them has been fascinating.

Take Gareth Southgate. In 1996, when Football Was Coming Home, he spoke about the prospect of taking one before the tournament.

“I’ve only taken one penalty before, for Crystal Palace at Ipswich. It was 2-2 in the 89th minute, I hit the post and we went down that year. But I think I’d be far more comfortable now than I was then.”

And then came Germany in the semi-finals, penalties, and Southgate the poor unfortunate to miss the crucial spot kick.

Five months later, he split opinion by taking part in a Pizza Hut commercial that made light of his spurned penalty. Some felt it was a man getting over trauma and making light of it. Others felt he was cashing in on a failure.

Now that penalties are here in Gaelic football, there have been a few instances where they have been used. Clare and Limerick in the Munster Championship, Sligo and Leitrim in the Tailteann Cup.

Most famously though, and the one that brought scorn from victorious manager Padraic Joyce though, was the All-Ireland quarter final win for his Galway over Armagh.

No coincidence that Galway went first. And in Stefan Campbell, Armagh had a man who had played plenty of soccer for Lurgan Celtic and had huge experience of kicking a stationary football.

Afterwards, Joyce admitted to the press that since the previous December, they had spent time at training practising their penalties.

What comes as a surprise though is that Derry manager Rory Gallagher states his side have not been following suit.

Their main penalty taker is Shane McGuigan and he has a patchy record from twelve yards. He missed one in the 2021 Division Three final against Offaly, albeit it was the final play in a game they had long sewn up.

Asked if penalties formed a part of their preparation at the recent press event, Gallagher answered, “Not really, no. Do I know who our penalty takers are? Yes. It is not something…it is something out of the ordinary compared with soccer.

“Definitely since it has come in, probably since the Limerick-Clare game went to penalties there is an awareness of it and you see them practising it but it is not concentrated practise. I would be more into knowing who is a good striker of the ball and has a good temperament and that is why we know who is taking them.”

But just like Joyce, who could be seen as a traditionalist, Gallagher is entirely opposed to using penalties to settle a game.

robert-finnerty-scores-a-penalty James Crombie / INPHO Robert Finnerty fires home his penalty for Galway against Armagh. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“Absolutely ludicrous, farcical, unfair”, he says.

“I don’t who said about copying other sports, was it Padraic (Joyce)? You know there are things that can be learned from other sports but it is not a skill that is overall throughout the team, definitely not.

“I do not understand how if it is not going to be a replay, (then a rule of) next score wins.

“That is fair. You attack, we attack. It is knife edge and it is a fairer way than the pressure being put onto the players, particularly players who are not accustomed to taking them.

“There are a lot of players playing who step up who maybe do not even take them for their club. Even taking the frees off the ground now is not a skill that everybody shares, I just don’t understand if we don’t go for a replay.

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“Galway and Armagh both said they would be happy to replay next week, then play the semi-final the week after. To me that would be fair and practical.”

rian-oneill-consoles-conor-turbitt-after-he-missed-a-penalty James Crombie / INPHO Rian O'Neill consoles Conor Turbitt after he missed a penalty for Armagh. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

While he understands that the championship season has been squeezed tightly, the Fermanagh native believes that once the provincial series are completed, that there should be sufficient time built in to allow for replays.

“I think a replay once you get to a provincial final. If there is a four-week gap after the provincial finals, why not play a replay the following week?” he asks.

“And then have a situation where it is next score or penalties. As welll as that, there is another day out, there is another experience, not just for the players, it is for the supporters, it is for the whole public. Would not the whole of Ireland want to watch Armagh and Galway go at it again? Absolutely.”

Derry have not been in an All-Ireland semi-final since 2004, and they head down to Croke Park to face The Tribesmen with a full bill of health and significant momentum after thumping Clare in the quarter-final and kicking five goals.

rory-gallagher-takes-a-photo-for-kids-with-shane-mcguigan James Crombie / INPHO Rory Gallagher takes a photo for supporters with Shane McGuigan. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“As it stands there is definitely no fresh injuries,” states Gallagher.

“Paudie Cassidy is the one player we would have been hoping that would have been more fit than he has been, but with the nature of the game the last day we decided we were not going to risk him so he did a full part in training again the other night and it is an advantage.

“The younger players, there is Matthew and Calum Downey carried knocks from January, February time and we are just taking a cautious approach with them.”

- Originally published at 06.30

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