Second Donegal football replay to include provision for penalties
New rematch will take place this Wednesday evening in Ballybofey
Last June the GAA announced that the All-Ireland club senior championship finals would be moving from their traditional St Patrick’s Day slot to a new date in January
The backlog begins. That still lofty ambition of ultimately completing the club championship within the calendar year got another reality check over the weekend as the Donegal football final went to a second replay – this Wednesday evening’s rematch between Gaoth Dobhair and Naomh Conaill to include the provision of a penalty shoot-out if necessitated to decide the outcome.
With the winners due to play Cavan champions Castlerahan in the first round of the Ulster club football championship this coming Sunday, the Donegal county board had no option: a request to include a penalty shoot-out in Sunday’s first replay drew no response from either club, and instead they were left inseparable again, this time after extra-time.
Fixed for 8pm at MacCumhaill Park in Ballybofey, it could make for a long evening as Gaoth Dobhair look to defend their title.
Two Donegal under-20 football quarter-finals were decided by penalty shootout earlier this month, while both the Galway and Roscommon intermediate football finals were decided by the same method over the last two weekends.
Last June the GAA announced that the All-Ireland club senior championship finals would be moving from their traditional St Patrick’s Day slot to a new date in January, beginning in 2020: the senior semi-finals in hurling and football will be played across the weekend January 4th/5th, the senior finals in both codes will now be played on Sunday, January 19th.
The move is part of an overall commitment to condense the fixture calendar, create further opportunities for club activity, and also allow counties in the Allianz Leagues to access players who were previously unavailable because they were playing in All-Ireland senior club semi-finals or finals up until St Patrick’s Day.
It makes for a reduction of six weeks in the club schedules, and is also seen as a stepping stone to a calendar-year conclusion to the championships, which would see them played before Christmas.
Former GAA director general Páraic Duffy referred to the proposal in his 2015 annual report and projected its implementation for 2016, although that calendar-year conclusion still appears a distant and lofty ambition.