Friday 28 July 2017

Shoot-outs will decide deadlocked NHL play-offs

John McGrath fires a penalty past Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O'Keeffe during this year's Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final. The Allianz Hurling League quarter-finals and semi-finals in 2017 will be decided by a shoot-out if they finish level after two separate periods of extra-time. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
John McGrath fires a penalty past Waterford goalkeeper Stephen O'Keeffe during this year's Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final. The Allianz Hurling League quarter-finals and semi-finals in 2017 will be decided by a shoot-out if they finish level after two separate periods of extra-time. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The Allianz Hurling League quarter-finals and semi-finals in 2017 will be decided by a shoot-out if they finish level after two separate periods of extra-time, the GAA's Central Council has decided.

The mechanism for ensuring such games are decided on the same day will run on a pilot basis, ruling out replays.

But replays for the League hurling and football finals will still be in place if those games finish level after one period of extra-time.

The shoot-out, based on a free-taking competition which has yet to be formalised, was first mooted in the document produced this time last year on player over-training and burnout and the fixtures calendar.

If the initial 10-minute-a-side extra-time finished level it would be followed by a further two periods of five minutes before teams would engage in a shoot-out.

It is designed to reduce the prospects of replays and free up more time for club activity.

Central Council also gave the green light over the weekend to the masters fixtures plan which sees all four League football finals being played in early April, two weeks earlier than its normal date because of the abolition of League semi-finals.

That switch now creates a six-week window between the end of the Leagues and the start of the 2017 Championships, though the conclusion of the U-21 Football Championship and Christy Ring/Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher competitions will all play out in that period.

The moves comes as the Club Players Association step up their plans to provide a voice for club players by seeking official recognition from the GAA.

Central Council has also confirmed that the International Rules series will revert to two Tests in Australia next year on November 11 and November 18. The venues have yet to be decided. Broad agreement has also been reached for a further two-Test series in Ireland in 2019.

The International Rules reverted to a one-Test series in Australia in 2014 after Ireland's landslide win over the visitors in two 2013 Tests in Croke Park and Kingspan Breffni Park.

PLEDGE

The Australians' pledge to use only All-Australian selected players raised the competitiveness of the series again with close Tests in Perth in 2014 and Dublin last year, and that has created the grounds to extend.

"The one-off Test matches over the last two years were two high-class encounters played in front of very strong crowds. Australian and Irish fans have shown they want to see a spectacular and competitive contest played between the most talented AFL players and Ireland's best Gaelic footballers," said AFL general manager football operations Mark Evans.

Central Council has also cleared the way for an U-17 inter-county competition to be played next summer to accommodate those players who will miss out in 2018 when minor switches to U-17. But that is already causing havoc among county fixtures officials.

Irish Independent

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