GAA Football

Penalty shoot-outs are madness: Galway boss Padraic Joyce

Galway celebrate their penalty shoot-out win over Armagh
From Brendan Crossan in Croke Park

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-final: Armagh 3-18 Galway 2-21 (Galway win 4-1 on penalties)

PADRAIC Joyce was white as a sheet entering the press conference room after one of the most insanely entertaining Championship matches ever played at Croke Park.

As he sat down, the Galway manager looked too drained to celebrate his side’s historic penalty shoot-out win that saw Armagh come back from the dead several times in an astonishing All-Ireland quarter-final played in front of 71,353 delirious supporters.

Despite what he’d just witnessed, Joyce remained cool and calm and made all the right noises afterwards. He condemned the nasty melee at the end of normal time.

Speaking softly into a few dozen recording devices, Joyce beseeched the GAA to get rid of penalty shoot-outs, he commiserated with his opposite number Kieran McGeeney, praised the character of both sets of players and didn’t try and disguise the problems the Tribesmen have in defence ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final with Derry on July 9.

First, to the mad penalty shoot-out then, where Galway converted four out of four and Armagh missed two out of three.

“In fairness, my heart goes out to Kieran McGeeney and the Armagh team and supporters,” said Joyce, “because it's no way to lose a quarter-final. We're condensing this season into six or seven months, which is crazy to be honest.

“Both sets of players, Galway and Armagh, have trained flat out since last December.

“It's something the GAA need to look at because we're not soccer. Penalties are for soccer, it's not for GAA in my eyes. Fair play to the Armagh and Galway players that took the penalties, and the two keepers. But it's a pure lottery, what happens.”

TV pictures appeared to show a non-playing Armagh player clawing at Damien Comer’s face as the two sets of players converged at the Cusack Park tunnel where wrestling broke out.

When the sides emerged for extra-time, Galway captain Sean Kelly and Armagh forward Aidan Nugent were red-carded by referee David Coldrick who had dismissed Greg McCabe in the 62nd minute.

“We came in and they were ugly scenes, they shouldn’t be happening, don’t get me wrong,” Joyce said.

“But you can’t just stand back and let the lads in on top of it. In fairness to the Armagh management, and our own management, we got it pulled away as quickly as we could and got lads down the tunnel to focus on the match.”

The Orchard men had somehow hauled themselves level by grabbing two stoppage-time goals – one apiece from Aidan Nugent and Conor Turbitt – before Rian O’Neill converted a monster free to force this pulsating quarter-final into extra-time.

“It was a thrilling game,” Joyce added.

“We had the game probably won three or four times and they came back. Then, we lost our captain in extra-time. I don’t understand how they picked out one player but we’ll look at the video and see.

“Again, we had to take control of the game in extra-time, which we did, and we showed good character and even then to get a sucker punch of a goal again [from Rory Grugan] in the second-half of extra-time.

“But the lads showed brilliant character and kept playing football, kept playing through the lines and Cillian [McDaid] popped up with an amazing equaliser at the end."

With a note of defiance, the former Galway great said: “Galway have been accused of being soft in the past so at least today they put a little bit of mark on the good direction because Galway had to go and win a big game in Croke Park, and the was a big game, a tough game. We'll get ready for Derry in 13 days' time.”

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