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20th Jan 2022

“It is going down the soccer route” – Laois manager Billy Sheehan doesn’t agree with penalty shootouts in Gaelic football

Lee Costello

“I know people will say we won but we didn’t win. We got a draw.”

Despite being on the winning side, Laois manager Billy Sheehan doesn’t agree with the inclusion of penalty shootouts in the GAA.

Sheehan watched his side beat Kildare from the spot kick to ensure their place in the O’Byrne Cup final against Dublin this weekend.

Laois haven’t won the tournament since 2005, so this will be their best opportunity in years to do so.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think it’s a skill in the game. I’d rather if people took frees off their hands,” Sheehan told RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland.

“It is going down the soccer route. I’d rather if there was even frees from a certain distance or just on the 45, or whatever. I don’t think penalties is a way to decide a Gaelic football game.

“Ah, but we didn’t win. That’s the fact. We drew the game. I know people will say we won but we didn’t win. We got a draw. Probably, at the end, we were hanging on.

“We had some opportunities, they had some great opportunities. But the boys’ attitude is very good and that’s all I can ask for as a manager.”

Despite this, it has been a very good turnaround for Laois, especially after being on the wrong end of a 15 point hammering at the hands of Wexford, just over a week ago.

“The first day we’re still learning from and I’m still learning from. That day was an unacceptable performance but it was unacceptable from me as well. I’m the manager of the team, I coach the team and the way I set up the team was wrong. I take the blame and not the players and it’s my job to try and improve things.

“As I say, it’s the O’Byrne Cup. You want to go out and win games. Everyone says it’s a learning curve but when you’re on the pitch, whatever it is, challenge game or training session, you’ve got to have that winning element.

“Unfortunately, the first day, we had a very, very bad day out. We’ve improved a small bit since.”

Playing in the final this Sunday will mean that Laois will be lining out for their fifth game in just 14 days.

“There’s a game on now in three or four days,” Sheehan says. “The most important thing is we assess things. The GAA are on about burnout. We aren’t allowed play a game until the 1st of January and now they’ve given us five games in 14 days, which I think is very hard on players. But we’re not going to be ones to make excuses. We’ll be there on Saturday and we’ll be ready to go.”

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