Shoot-outs to decide final stalemates
A novel proposal to allow a free-taking competition decide the destiny of the upcoming higher education tournaments -- should teams still be level after extra-time -- has been accepted by the GAA.
There has been an increasing amount of close contests in the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup competitions in recent years with late comebacks and extra-time becoming a feature of these long-standing third-level events.
However, with the majority of participating players involved with inter-county squads, clubs and studying for exams, an innovative submission to help alleviate time pressures has been submitted to Croke Park by Comhairle Ardoideachais, the GAA's third-level authority.
Ever more concerned with the demands being placed on players, and the subsequent logistical and scheduling difficulties that inevitably arise, Comhairle Ardoideachais officials contacted Croke Park looking to allay problems caused by possible replays.
The Sunday Independent can reveal that this submission has been accepted and will come into play if either of next year's finals goes past normal and extra-time.
Teams will now play two additional periods of extra-time, consisting of five minutes each way, in the event of a draw after extra-time. But if the sides are still level, five frees will be taken by five different players.
The frees will be taken from 45 metres out in Gaelic football and from 65 metres out in hurling. Only points will be recorded as a score and no goalkeepers will be allowed face the marksman in either code.
The free-taking competition will then move to sudden death if scores remain deadlocked.
There is speculation that this new format could extend to other domains within the GAA.
"Comhairle Ardoideachais have come in with this idea, it is a novel one and it has been accepted," says GAA director of games administration and player welfare Feargal McGill.
"But the system is designed specifically for these tournaments with a heavy schedule of games that take place over a weekend.
"With semi-finals being played on a Friday and finals on a Saturday -- neither the players or the broader GAA community can squeeze in replays and you can't keep playing extra-time indefinitely.
"However, I wouldn't be convinced that it's a system you'll see at inter-county, club level or within the broader association anytime soon," he added, explaining that while it was a very good and practical solution, it addressed a problem that was not that common in the GAA.
"The Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup weekends are unique in that you have the semi-final on a Friday and finals on a Saturday and with the players in such demand it can't really go any longer than that," he continued.
"So this is a different way of addressing the issue. It's certainly an interesting approach and we'll see if it works."
Sunday Indo Sport