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Declan Bogue: Ulster will keep putting angry clubs on the spot

 

Hands on: Derrygonnelly ace Jack Love dives for one of the penalties
Hands on: Derrygonnelly ace Jack Love dives for one of the penalties
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

The Ulster Council has insisted that 'finish-on-the-day' protocols will remain in place for the Ulster Club Football Championships after two games over the weekend ended in penalty shoot-outs.

Tyrone's Trillick were knocked out of the senior Championship by Fermanagh champions Derrygonnelly Harps in Brewster Park on Sunday, less than 24 hours after another Tyrone club, Rock St Patrick's, lost out to Donegal's Buncrana in their Junior semi-final in Celtic Park.

However, the means of deciding the contests has not gained a favourable reaction, with both winners and losers expressing their dissatisfaction with the method.

Declan Woods, the public relations officer for the Ulster Council, stated: "My understanding is that 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.

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"Meath had shoot-outs, there were some instances of penalties in the Meath Championship. Overall, I am not sure it was adapted everywhere," he said.

"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). Naomh Conaill wouldn't agree, Gaoth Dobhair would agree to it, so they had to keep going on with another replay."

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

The Ulster Council had a page in their matchday programmes over the weekend explaining the rules of the shoot-outs.

Asked why there was a need to host penalty kick shoot-outs, Woods continued: "This was a recommendation to try to improve the flow of fixtures. There are still a lot of games going on, Under-20 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.

"Of course there will be a financial impact, but that's the way it is."

The Junior semi-final between Rock and Buncrana on Saturday evening became the first ever competitive Championship game in Ulster to be decided by such means, the Donegal men winning the shoot-out 4-3.

It sparked some resentment from the Tyrone club on social media.

The following day, not even a momentous win for Derrygonnelly over Trillick could convince the victors that it was the correct way to go, with an empty weekend ahead.

Derrygonnelly club captain Ryan Jones said: "Our supporters were running out onto the pitch to celebrate with us but our lads went straight to the Trillick boys, because it's gut-wrenching for them.

"I'm not sure if it's the best way to finish the game but we had no control over that."

His thoughts were echoed by co-manager Brendan Rasdale, who has taught many of the Trillick players in St Michael's College.

"I'm not sure it's right. I think it's a bit too cruel for a team that's been going maybe since February to end up going out on that," said Rasdale.

"The week that's there to work with, you've probably got to use it."

Unsurprisingly, that was backed up by Trillick manager Nigel Seaney, himself a native of Fermanagh.

"I personally don't agree with it. To get to the Ulster Club Championship, teams have to win their county Championship, there's a tremendous amount of effort goes into that," he said.

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