Don’t put players on spot - insists Derry boss Rory Gallagher

They guarantee drama but Rory Gallagher says it is “ludicrous” that Championship games are now being decided on penalty shoot-outs.

Derry manager Rory Gallagher.
Derry manager Rory Gallagher.

Galway’s place in this weekend’s All Ireland semi-final was secured by spot-kick success over Armagh following one of the best games of football seen in Croke Park over the last decade or more. Matthew Tierney’s kick finally decided an enthralling encounter but Gallagher believes both counties deserved a better finale after serving up such a memorable spectacle for the country.

“(It’s) absolutely ludicrous, farcical, unfair,” said the Oak Leaf manager, “I am not sure who was saying about copying other sports. Maybe it was Pádraic (Joyce) but while there are things to be learned from other sports, it’s not a skill that is overall throughout the teams, definitely not.

“I do not understand it. If it is not going to be a replay, then next score wins. That’s fair. It’s something like…you attack, we attack and it may go on. It is knife-edge and it’s a better way than the pressure being put on players, especially for players who are not accustomed to taking penalties. There are a lot of players who don’t even take them for their club. Even taking frees off the ground now is not a skill that everybody shares.

“I don’t understand why we don’t go for a replay. I think Galway and Armagh both said they’d be happy to play a replay the week after and the semi-final the week after. To me, that would be fair and practical.”

The Derry boss said a replay would be his preference, especially for sides that have earned the right to appear in the All Ireland series

“A replay once you get to your provincial final,” was Gallagher’s emphatic response to how he would like to see such games resolved.

“If there is a four-week gap after the provincial finals, why not play the replay the following week. Then have a situation where it’s next score or then penalties. As well as that, there is another day out and another experience for the players, the supporters and the whole public. Would the whole of Ireland not have wanted Galway and Armagh to have gone at it again?”

Despite his reservation about spot-kicks, Gallagher admits it is something modern managers now have had to add to their preparations for big Championship encounters.

“Do I know who our penalty takers are? Yes,” smiled the Fermanagh native.

“It’s not something that’s normal (to the GAA), it’s very much out of the ordinary in comparison to soccer. However it is relevant. Definitely since the Limerick v Clare game with the penalties, there is an awareness of it and you can see them practising it.

“It’s not concentrated practice and I’d be more into if someone is a good kicker of the ball and their temperament but we know who is taking them.”