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Rian O'Neill Doesn't Think Championship Games Should Be Decided By Penalties

Rian O'Neill Doesn't Think Championship Games Should Be Decided By Penalties
Nathan Molloy
By Nathan Molloy
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Armagh's Rian O'Neill has said he feels that it isn't right to have penalties ending games in the Championship.

His Armagh team became the first team to lose an All-Ireland quarter final by spot kicks this year against Galway. Speaking on BBC's The GAA Social podcast this week, the Crossmaglen forward said he thinks that it isn't a natural skill for gaelic football and there was plenty of time for a replay.

In my opinion, I don't think it's right, I don't think it's a natural skill of gaelic football to go up and take a penalty. There's time for replays in between games, you would have had 50,000 more fans the following week. Fair enough extra time but I don't think it should be going to penalties.

Game of the century

What makes the Orchard County's championship exit worse for him, is that it came after they played in arguably one of the games of the century.

The match proved to be an exhibition of scoring with both teams unable to stretch clear of the other. This changed when Armagh's Greg McCabe got sent off for a reckless challenge in the 60th minute. Galway made their extra man advantage count as they led 1-16 to 0-13 in the first minute of injury time.


Fighting for their championship lives, Armagh did something spectacular. They scored 2 goals in stoppage time and their captain O'Neill himself kicked an amazing free outside the 45 to make the game go into extra time. After a melee at full time, the two teams couldn't be separated again in after nearly 100 minutes. The game therefore went to penalties which Galway subsequently won 4-1.

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Barely Fit to Stand

The quality of the contest and the length of time they were on the pitch is why O'Neill thinks that penalties are not a way to end a game.

Two teams serving up one of the best games of the championship, for it to be decided by penalties with boys that are barely fit to stand up taking a penalty. It's hard to ask them to take a penalty after playing 100 odd minutes.

While noting that many would presume a player from a losing side would be against penalties, he raised legitimate issues with using penalties to decide results


Practised In Training

The 24-year-old revealed that penalties would be practised in training ahead of a big championship clash. He also admitted that management couldn't select the best players for the shoot out as they were off the field, presumably tired out.

Despite the quarter final loss, it has been a good year for Armagh and O'Neill. They managed to stay in Division 1 and their captain has been nominated for an All-Star award on the back of great performances in the championship. They will be hoping to bounce back from disappointment next year and make it one step further.

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