Patrick Morrison


IN 1890, an Irish businessman and goalkeeper called William McCrum, from the small village of Milford in County Armagh, invented the penalty kick. Up until that point there had been no definitive infringement for fouls that were committed inside of the 18-yard square as well as for intentional handball to stop opponents from scoring

He took his proposal to the Irish FA and they in turn took it to the International FA meeting in 1890 where it was deferred until the next meeting and in 1891 it officially became a law of the game. To commemorate McCrum and his innovative rule the William McCrum Park was built in Milford village on the site of the pitch where the penalty kick was invented, also with a monument in its centre to honour his achievement.

At the weekend, my native county, Armagh, lost an agonising fourth penalty shootout to lose out to Donegal for the Ulster title they have been driving towards for many years. For me it is possibly the cruellest of ways to both win and lose a championship match.

Obviously losing a shootout has that depressional despair associated with it but for the victors comes that unsavoury taste of feeling you have cheated your opponent somehow.

Whether penalty shootouts will be continued to decide championship games can only be debated at this point in time but what can be guaranteed is that they are of course a current part of the game as a sanction for infringements committed within the large rectangle. As they are part of the game, they of course need to be trained both by the penalty taker and the goalkeeper facing them. I train penalties in five main ways:

1 Normal Penalties – shooter versus goalkeeper. Shooter takes five penalties and winner/loser is recorded. A league or running score can be kept between the players to add a competitive edge with rewards or forfeits used as motivation.

2 Shooter Declares – before the penalty is taken the shooter must declare the spot in which he is intending to put the ball. The goalkeeper starts dead centre on the goal-line and must not move until the shooter strikes the ball.

This will benefit both the goalkeeper and the shooter psychologically by both knowing where the ball is going.

3 Slalom Poles – use two slalom poles and place them diagonally from the ground across the post to create a one metre by one metre by one metre triangle.

The shooter does not need to declare which side they are shooting for but for the score to count they must score through the triangle created by the slalom poles.

4 Shooter Declares Slaloms – this is a mixture of options 2 and 3 above. With the slalom poles creating two triangles, the shooter must declare which triangle they are shooting for. The goalkeeper, as before, will be on their goal-line and will not be allowed to move until the shooter has struck the ball.

5 Training Games – during games in training sessions if a goal is scored, for that goal to be counted the goalkeeper on the team that scored the goal must save a penalty at the opposite end. If they save the penalty their team’s goal will count, if they do not save the penalty their goal does not count and is overturned. After the penalty, the game resumes with a restart/kickout at the opposite end/end the original goal was scored.

6 Angles – tie both ends of a rope to both posts. Bring it out until both sides meet at the penalty spot creating a ‘V’ shape. These are the angles the goalkeeper must cover to stop a score. The goalkeeper can now practice covering that angle both with and without the ball to ensure that they fully cover the area the ball will be travelling toward. By fully covering the score area give the goalkeeper as much advantage as they can have in this situation. In essence, instead of trying to save the ball make sure you cover the angle.

Whatever influences helped Milford FC goalkeeper William McCrum invent the penalty kick does not have any real importance in regard to its application. What really matters is the fact they are part of our Gaelic games and they need to be worked upon regularly by both shooters and goalkeepers.

They can be taken for granted at times and they do have a psychological element associated with them, but please ensure that you do not neglect ‘The Penalty.’


Facebook: @MSoG11

Twitter: @MorSchGk

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