Jason Doherty’s penalty practice paid dividends for Mayo

Mayo’s stand-in captain Jason Doherty revealed he took more than a dozen penalties on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s FBD League encounter which ended up being decided by an historic shootout.

And the Burrishoole clubman, who stepped forward and slotted home the first kick which helped see off Leitrim, said he and his team-mates will practice spot kicks ahead of Sunday’s semi-final 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.

Prenty said: “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. Why not try something new, especially in the provincial competitions.”

Doherty was handed free-taking duties by returned manager James Horan in the absence of Cillian O’Connor and in training on Saturday he practised some penalties, even though he wasn’t aware that penalties would be used to decide the game. “I 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 that made it easier walking up to the spot, known I had kicked a few.

“It was kind of unusual, it was exciting. You’d be more used to watching it at the World Cup or in the soccer.

“It was cool to be involved in, obviously makes it nicer to come out the right end of it.”

The victory 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 raised the standard of Mayo senior football across the board in terms of expectation and skill level when he came in in 2011. 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 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.”

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