John Horgan: Hurling relegation shouldn't be decided by penalties

Carrigtwohill were consigned to the SAHC grade for 2021 after a harrowing loss in a penalty shootout to Charleville; an unfair system argues our columnist 
John Horgan: Hurling relegation shouldn't be decided by penalties

Mallow goalkeeper Padge Buckley saves a penalty late in the game against Ballyhea during the Co-Op Superstores Cork SAHC at Buttevant. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE current format of the championship in Cork has proved to be a resounding success and, no doubt will continue to be so going forward.

The games have come thick and fast over the past few weeks and in all grades, things are starting to come to the boil now. Already a number of issues have been settled with regards to relegation, a team losing the status that it has held and dropping down a grade.

Last Saturday at Fermoy Charleville and Carrigtwohill came face to face to decide which one of them would no longer occupy the top table of Premier senior hurling in the county. By all accounts, it was a terrific game, a game that could not be resolved in regulation time and in the extra 20 minutes that were added on.

With it being the final game of the season for both teams, the most obvious thing to have done was to have taken the game to a replay. But the current rules decreed that the game had to be decided on the day and therefore it went to a penalty shootout.

Two teams that had given everything over 80 minutes were now going to have their immediate future put on the line with that type of scenario.

We have witnessed over and over again major soccer championships being resolved with a penalty shootout and nobody across the water needs reminding of that.

 Blackrock keeper Gavin Connolly can't stop this penalty by Patrick Horgan, Glen Rovers in the Co-Op Superstores PSHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last season. Picture: Dan Linehan
Blackrock keeper Gavin Connolly can't stop this penalty by Patrick Horgan, Glen Rovers in the Co-Op Superstores PSHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last season. Picture: Dan Linehan

However, that’s the way it is in that code and now it has been introduced on the Gaelic games front. Well, here's one who is totally opposed to it.

Right, the rules and regulations might have been made known to the teams in advance but does that make it right? For a neutral, it might make for a thrilling spectacle through its duration.

The winners will, naturally, celebrate wildly, but for the losers, it’s the ultimate in heartbreak. As events transpired it was Carrigtwoill who lost out, losing 3-2 and as a result, they now drop down to the Senior A grade next season.

Fair enough, they had four games, and four chances to try and preserve their status but it’s still not right that a game of such magnitude should be resolved this way.

Why could this game not have gone to a replay or at worst be decided that the teams continue playing and the team that scores first be declared the winners? The golden score, as it’s known, would be a better way in this observer’s opinion.

There might be some wee bit of semblance to a penalty shootout if the winners were needed for a game the following week in the provincial championship but in this case what was the urgency?

So, Carrigtwohill lost out with absolute gallantry and, hopefully, we’ll see them back in the top flight sooner rather than later.

THRILLER

No problems of that type for their near-neighbours Midleton who edged out Erin’s Own under the lights at headquarters last Friday night to reach the last four of the Premier grade.

This was an absorbing East Cork derby that featured some great scores from both teams, the vast majority of them coming from open play, particularly in the first half. Midleton are now in a far better place than they were 12 months ago when they failed to emerge from their group.

They came into this game on the back of a heavy loss to Sarsfields in their final group game but given that both sides had already qualified for the knockout stage, maybe a bit too much was read into that outcome.

Midleton's main strength seems to be in their attack which contains three players who contributed handsomely to the win over the Caherlag team, Conor Lehane, Luke O'Farrell and Cormac Beausang who shared 17 points of their 23 point tally.

There is a decent mix of experience and youth in this Midleton team and young players like Same Quirke and Ciarmach Smyth caught the eye Quirke was a key member of the Cork U20 team this season and looks to have the potential to graduate to the bigger stage in the future.

Erin’s Own gave as good as they got for the entire game and the loss of Kieran Murphy through a second yellow card was considerable. The season in Caherlag is not over though as the club’s junior team will contest the East Cork Junior A final next weekend against St Ita’s who will be bidding for their first title.

GUTSY

Staying with clubs in East Cork, Russell Rovers have certainly been through the wringer over the past six or eight weeks. After contesting the 2020 Cork County LIHC final against Castlemartyr, they subsequently got immersed in a relegation struggle in the current campaign and were in danger of dropping back down to the junior grade.

Last Saturday they faced Grenagh in a game to decide their fate and emerged with flying colours, comprehensively defeating the Mid Cork team who now lose their status.

They did so too without the services of star forward Josh Beausang who was absent through injury. It’s certainly hotting up now in all the grades and in the county IAHC there’s one game to keep an eye on going forward, Mayfield against their up-the-road neighbours Sars.

They might come from different divisions but both clubs are not that far apart so bragging rights will be on the agenda as well, of course, as a place in the county final.

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