In a selfless act of sportsmanship that may cost relegation-threatened Dungannon Swifts their place in the Northern Irish Premier League, footballer Darren Murphy missed a penalty on purpose, due to the farcical circumstances it was given in.
The incident, which can be viewed from 51 seconds into the video, has given the IFA Premiership a much needed publicity boost, and most certainly shows both Dungannon and Ballymena in a good light.
Following a scrappy exchange of head tennis inside Ballymena's 18-yard box, defender Chris Rodgers collided with one of his own team mates, leaving him lying motionless on the ground. As the ball was crossed back in to the box, a concerned team mate, Gavin Taggart, plucked the ball from mid air and caught it. Much to his bemusement, the referee had to award a penalty as it was 'the letter of the law'. However, given the circumstances, it seemed wholly unnecessary and completely over the top.
As Darren Murphy stepped up to take it, a vociferous crowd were at boiling point. Yet they had no need to worry about Dungannon taking an underhand advantage, as Murphy gently rolled it back to the goalkeeper, to diffuse the tense, if not dumbfounded Ballymena players and supporters.
Speaking after the game, Murphy was unperturbed by the magnitude of his actions, and maintained he would have done the same again, regardless of the circumstances:
I have no regrets over doing what I did. I spoke to Rodney McAree (Dungannon manager) on the sidelines after we were awarded the penalty and agreed we should knock the ball back to the keeper."
"Ballymena's player was knocked out and was in trouble, so the game should have been stopped. It wouldn't have been right for us to score from the penalty.If the same situation arose on the final day of the season I would do exactly the same thing.
As they are only three points off the bottom of the league, the Swifts may have been forgiven for doing what they needed to do to survive. However, this compassionate act, compliant with the spirit of the game of old, will more than likely work better for Dungannon, and the league, in the long run.