FIXTURES CRISIS UPDATE
Despite growing player unrest, the East Kerry Board has refused to comment on its controversial scheduling policy which will see teams in action throughout the month of December.
Two weeks ago, the Killarney Advertiser exclusively revealed the extent to which players have become disillusioned with the timing of the East Kerry Championship. Since then, I have personally reached out to the PRO of the East Kerry Board, the Secretary of the East Kerry Board, the Chairman of the East Kerry Board and the Chairman of the CCC for a comment and to perhaps address some of the players’ concerns.
I am yet to receive a single response.
The final of this year’s East Kerry Championship, also known as the O’Donoghue Cup, will not be staged until December 22. Teams started training in January of this year (at the latest). That’s a yearlong season with no breaks and no gap before the start of the next campaign. This represents a major player welfare issue and the feeling locally is that something has to change.
It isn’t the first time this has happened in East Kerry but this year it seems as though players are simply fed up with the situation. Many have claimed that the East Kerry Board didn’t avail of free weekends earlier in the calendar, with some also accusing the Board of intentionally delaying games involving teams who had players on the East Kerry senior panel. East Kerry, led by Fossa brothers David and Paudie Clifford, reached the last four of the 2018 Kerry SFC, their best showing in the competition in a number of years.
The O’Donoghue Cup first round game between Fossa v Dr Crokes, which should have been played earlier in the year, will now take place on December 5. The other side of the draw is already at the semi-final stage.
The fixtures crisis is causing consternation on a national level. Roscommon GAA recently tabled a motion asking the GAA to adopt a ‘blank canvas’ approach to scheduling for 2019, which they hoped would reform the association’s master schedule from top to bottom. The motion, which was strongly endorsed by the Club Players Association, was defeated on Saturday. The GAA say they will revisit the issue in the summer.
With no action imminent from the GAA Central Council, the pressure is now on county and district boards to address this crisis head-on.
To be fair to the Kerry County Board, the Club Championship and County League were run off in a timely and efficient fashion in 2018 and the staging of the County Championship was also largely successful.
The feeling amongst players in Killarney and the surrounding parishes is that the Super League and the O’Donoghue Cup, two East Kerry competitions that bookend the club football season in this part of the world, are causing most of the problems.
One possible solution would see the opening rounds of the East Kerry Championship played at the start of the year, which would allow the tournament to be played off quickly once the County Championship has concluded in October.
Players must act
As I said last week, the onus is now on the players to make their voices heard. I would urge senior squads across East Kerry to sit down and discuss the issue as a group. Put your concerns down in writing and submit them to your club. If you don’t take on this responsibility now, there’s every possibility that we’ll be sitting here in a year’s time having exactly the same conversation all over again.
The East Kerry Board answers to its clubs. If the majority of clubs want change, the Board will have to take action. And I’m sure they’ll be happy to do so once they know exactly how the players feel.