Secret Junior Footballer - Who is the real hero in a shootout?

The Secret Junior Footballers is a current player in one of the LDMC leagues
In this week’s Limerick Leader column, the Secret Junior Footballer wonders who should get the plaudits in a penalty shootout.

In this week’s Limerick Leader column, the Secret Junior Footballer wonders who should get the plaudits in a penalty shootout.

Penalty shootouts seem to be all the rage lately. Ballynanty crashed out of the Munster Junior ten days ago when Annacotty put down their prawn sandwiches long enough to take their 57th penalty of the night and everybody could go home to bed.

The following day Regional won their first of two shootouts in five days, made easier because Carew couldn’t find anybody else to go in goals, having tried everybody. On Thursday night in the Premier Cup, The Dooradoyle Lakers did it again, this time beating the Crazy Gang, who, it must be said, aren’t really that crazy at all.

Last weekend Knockainey made hard work of Croom before dispatching them on penalties and the question I have this week is, who is the real hero of a penalty shootout win, especially when it’s the early rounds of a competition and you’ve only just beaten a team way below you in the league.

The relatively few shootouts I’ve been involved in have been tense affairs – not that many of them aren’t tense, particularly Lawson, 2A and 2B Cups against rivals who have hammered you in the league but the magic of the cup levels most teams. After a dour 1-1 or 0-0 and an even worse period of extra time where even the fitter teams struggle to raise their game, it comes down to a battle of nerves.

No pressure whatsoever on the keepers, nobody really expects them to save anything but when they do, they have their moment in the sun. When the outfield players are standing there, arm in arm, they have the best seat in the house.

What approach does your keeper take? Is it the Tim Krul approach where you get right up into the taker’s face, daring him to dink it down the middle or telling him he has no chance, that you’re saving this no matter where he puts it? Is it the Bruce Grobbelaar spaghetti legs approach before you burst into action or the Jerzy Dudek where you don’t stop moving until the last second when you make your mind up? Is the real hero the player who steps up and buries his chance when the pressure is really on, like Ballynanty Rovers did last year in that epic in Jackman Park?

What a shame there’ll be no repeat this year but they’ll surely be back. That player, the one you’re banking on to hit the back of the net, should he go on first, second or even last? This is usually the star centreforward. The Tierney, the Grant, the Clarke. And if he misses have you just thrown away the initiative and given the keeper something to brag about for the rest of the season?

No goalkeeper stands a chance though, against Gary Griffin. The man with the Beatles haircut waits and waits and waits and just rolls the ball into the corner.

I wonder will Carew Park stick him in goals next, must be his turn. Last man back next weekend for the yellow submarine I reckon.