GAA Football

Tyrone looking at "alternative" to penalty shootouts

Dungannon won their first Tyrone SFC for 64 years with a penalty shootout victory over Trillick last year. Picture by Seamus Loughran

TYRONE county board say they are “looking into an alternative” to championship games being settled by a penalty shootout.

Their epic county football final last year was settled on spot-kicks as Dungannon sealed an historic win over Trillick, bringing on chaotic scenes of celebration despite the small number of fans allowed into Healy Park.

Trillick had had earlier in the Championship overcome Killyclogher on penalties and in all, four games in Tyrone were settled in that manner last year.

The previous year, senior champions Trillick, junior winners Rock and hurling champions Dungannon were all eliminated from Ulster after losing penalty shootouts.

Debate has raged over the idea since it was permanently introduced by the GAA this year as a means of reducing the chaos caused to the fixture list by replays.

While anything from provincial club championships up to a significant number of inter-county championship games are subject to a penalty shootout under rule, there may be little room for Tyrone to deviate.

The only option appears to be to create room for replays which given the tight window into which county boards will have to fit their club championships, could be equally troublesome.

It's understood that no other methods of finishing games on the day, such as extra periods of extra-time beyond the traditional two ten-minute spells, are permitted.

Originally the GAA had opted for a free-taking competition but moved in to penalty shootouts in 2020, but even the idea of returning to free-kicks would seemingly undermine Tyrone's objection to penalty kicks.

In his annual report to convention, Tyrone secretary Dominic McCaughey hinted that the county would examine an alternative, labelling penalty shootouts as “alien”, “grotesque” and “potentially psychologically damaging”.

Tyrone CCC have also given clubs three options relating to how their fixture lists will be mapped out for the incoming year, in the event that games are able to resume.

The county had been due to cut its leagues down in size this year before Covid struck, and are now looking at having 18 senior teams as last year's intermediate league and championship winners go up, but nobody drops down.

Option A is to begin in late April or early May and play the full adult and reserve leagues as normal, with starred games that would run right up until the county teams exit.

The second option is to split the leagues up, so Division One would be broken into two groups of nine teams each, with a July start and no starred games.

Option C combines a development competition beginning in early May with the split leagues from option B, followed by a knockout championship.

The county will not move away from its traditional, and hugely successful, format of straight knockout for all of its championships.

“We are conscious that clubs need clarity and would like some indication on the 2021 games programme… It is worth remembering that these options are based on a split season and if this was to change, a full review would be needed,” said the CCC's letter to clubs.

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GAA Football