Derrygonnelly penalty hero immune to the pressure of sudden death

Derrygonnelly  penalty hero immune to the pressure of sudden death
The Derrygonnelly Harps leaving the field for half time during the Fermanagh SFC final. Picture: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

It may have been an unsatisfactory way to end a provincial club game that had so much to offer, but winning penalty-taker Conall Jones loved the drama of the sudden-death shootout which edged Derrygonnelly Harps past Trillick and into an AIB Ulster club SFC semi-final.

After all five designated penalty takers on both teams converted their kicks in Brewster Park on Sunday, Jones stepped up a second time in sudden death, and scored, a feat Tyrone star Lee Brennan was unable to match as his second kick crashed off the bottom of the right-hand post.

It meant that the Fermanagh champions won the shootout 6-5.

“I’ve never been involved in anything like that,” beamed Jones. “I practice them every night anyway because I take the penalties for Derrygonnelly anyway.

It’s about keeping your mind clear and if things go wrong, keep your mind on the ball and where you want it to go. I didn’t feel the pressure, I just enjoyed it. I really enjoyed it.

Many don’t like the format, and it could be argued that it is unfair to make players step up a second time if the shootout goes to sudden death, rather than sharing the duties throughout the teams until a winner is found. However Jones had no issue taking a second one.

Conall Jones was the hero for Derrygonnelly
Conall Jones was the hero for Derrygonnelly

“I loved going back up again, sure why not? It’s days like that that you play football for, so why would you go back away from it?

“I want to keep doing it, I want to keep testing myself. I’d have gone up a third time and a fourth time. I definitely feel for Lee, he went to St Michael’s (School) with a lot of us and he is an exceptional footballer and a brilliant soccer player as well. It (his shot) was shaping up to be a brilliant penalty, three inches further to the left and it was in the net so I do feel so sorry for him but he had a great game and it’s not down to him.”

Jones’ older brother and captain Ryan Jones would like to see players not have to stand in the middle of the pitch with so far to walk to take a penalty. Standing on the ‘45’ closer to the goals would possibly be a better option.

“I think they need to look at the way they walk up to them because I wasn’t even taking one and I couldn’t watch,” claimed the skipper.

The players were giving the opposition the high fives when they were meeting each other on the way in and out, wishing each other well.

“I’m not sure if it’s the best way to finish out a game but we have no control on that and we’re lucky we’re the ones going through. Lee was the unlucky one, but our lads went straight over to him which was a nice touch.”

The five-in-a-row Fermanagh champions will play Down kingpins Kilcoo in what’s only their second Ulster semi-final in that time.

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