BORRIS-ILEIGH lost their Tipperary senior hurling championship crown last Sunday to Drom-Inch.
Nothing strange about that, reigning champions lose their titles in all counties every year and new ones take over.
However, Borris-Ileigh’s circumstances were much different, they lost the game in Semple Stadium to their rivals in a penalty shoot-out.
My God, did we ever think that it would come to that, a major championship game of hurling being lost like that.
And who missed one of the crucial penalties in the shoot-out, the country’s best hurler last season when Tipperary claimed the McCarthy Cup, Brendan Maher.
He missed one too in extra-time after the sides were deadlocked in the extra 20 minutes.
No blame at all was attached to this magnificent hurler, one of the Premier County’s best in a list of great hurlers.
That’s the way it should be, World Cup finals have been lost in similar circumstances, a multi million euro player being the culprit.
It’s a shocking way to lose a game and in the game of hurling it should not be the case.
This, we all know, is an exceptional year, one like no other and change is the order of the day.
But surely, where hurling is concerned, there should be another way. The most obvious one being the golden score, playing on until one team gets the next score when the extra-time period has expired.
No team wants to exit a championship in a penalty shoot-out and I am sure if both sides were asked to come back 48 hours later to decide the issue after a drawn game they’d agree.
It hasn’t come to that here on Leeside yet but it may well happen as we enter the knockout stages of all the competitions.
I am not sure if it applies to county finals but could you imagine a club like Douglas if they were contesting the senior hurling final for the first time and losing it in a penalty shoot-out.
Can you imagine the burden that the player who missed the crucial shot having to carry.
Nobody would blame him, of course, but the player would go through personal torture for many a long day.
During the week the chairman of the Connacht Council Gerry McGovern spoke very strongly on the issue of penalties deciding games and he was very opposed to it.
He said :“The penalty shoot-out is fine for secondary competitions like the FBD league and similar competitions that take place pre-season.
“In my view it would be very tough for a player who misses the penalty that that exits his team from the championship.
“If the game was played on for the next score at least there is more chance of collective responsibility and everyone on the team is involved when the score is made or conceded."
Time is, of course, of the essence now in completing the club championships to make ay for the inter-county season to begin.
The window of opportunity is very limited for replays and that is accepted but it’s just not the GAA way of deciding major championship games in a shoot-out.
Of course, it makes for spectacular viewing for the neutral supporter, he does not have to go through the wringer of one who is attached to a team.
Aside from what happened in Thurles last Sunday, there have been instances of games being decided on penalties in Armagh, Kilkenny, Waterford and Tyrone.
Could it happen here on Leeside? Certainly because in all the competitions this season the playing field is very level and in some of the games coming up it might be very difficult to separate teams.
There is tremendous pressure on those involved in these penalty shoot-outs, both the taker and the goalkeeper.
One wonders now that with the season entering its business end in all counties are teams practising penalties.
In the event of a shoot-out are team managers nominating players to take the shots before the game commences?
It’s often the case that the star player on the team is the one to miss a penalty. Remember Ronaldo missing one for Manchester United in the Champions League final against Chelsea.
In the end it did not matter because his team mates saved him and United won the trophy.
Imagine the crucifixion he’d have received if they hadn’t.
Penalty shoot-outs are fine in some instances, soccer, rugby etc but where hurling is concerned they should not be deciding games of such great magnitude.