by John Fallon
Mayo’s stand-in captain Jason Doherty said he took more than a dozen penalties on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s FBD League encounter which ended up being decided by an historic penalty shootout — even though he didn't know that's how the tie would be decided.
And the Burrishoole clubman, who stepped forward and slotted home the first kick which helped see off Leitrim, said he and his teammates will practice kicks this week ahead of Sunday’s semi-final meeting with Galway at Tuam Stadium.
The Connacht Council have confirmed that penalties will continue to decide any drawn matches in the FBD League with provincial secretary John Prenty saying the decision was influenced by a lack of floodlights at venues.
“We took the decision last month and counties were informed so it was up to them to prepare if a shootout arose. The response has been great.
“We made the fixtures and matches were fixed for Carrick-on-Shannon, Hyde Park and Tuam and with none of those venues having floodlights it was decided to go with penalties rather than frees or anything else.
“Why not try something new, especially in the provincial competitions and maybe it can be used elsewhere,” he said.
Doherty was handed the free-taking duties by returned manager James Horan in the absence of Cillian O’Connor and in training on Saturday he practiced some penalties, even though he wasn't aware that penalties would be used to decide the game.
“Funny enough I actually took a few on Saturday when I was out kicking a few frees,” said the 29-year old.
“I’d say I took 10 to 15 penalties and thankfully that made it a bit easier walking up to the spot known I had kicked a few.
“It was kind of unusual, it was exciting. I was saying there that you’d be more used to watching it at the World Cup and stuff in the soccer.
“It was cool to be involved in, obviously makes it nicer to come out the right end of it. In fairness I think we were four from four to win it. It’s something different and certainly something I’ve never been involved in.”
The win on penalties, after Leitrim had come back to force a 2-13 to 2-13 draw, marked a winning return for Horan to inter-county management and Doherty said they were looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“He really raised the standard of Mayo senior football in general across the board in terms of expectation and skill level when he came in in 2011. A lot of that is still with him. He’s learned a lot since he stepped away from us.
“A good few of us worked with him before but the expectation is everything has to go up a few notches.”
Doherty looks set to lead Mayo out again on Sunday against Galway in Tuam Stadium after being asked by Horan to captain the team for the first time in Carrick-on-Shannon.
“It’s a huge honour to captain Mayo. Leading out the boys is something you obviously always dream about as a kid. The performance has left us with a lot to do but it was great to start with a win and now we have a match against Galway to look forward to and we will go from there,” he added.