The final of the last year’s East Kerry Super League took place on Sunday, over a year after the tournament began in February of 2018.
The Super League is effectively a pre-season tournament which is sometimes billed as good preparation for the real stuff, i.e. the County League which starts in March and the Club Championship which is played in the month of in April.
But that’s not how the players feel. When I spoke to players about the fixtures crisis late last year, they were universally in favour of scrapping the Super League. It was described to me as a series of “glorified challenge matches” on numerous occasions and many felt that it the tournament was merely taking up weekends in an already over-crowded schedule.
The bottom line is that it’s not taken at all seriously by players and very few clubs, if any, see value in it.
Timeline of Events
Last year’s Super League kicked off on February 11. The competition was comprised of Division 1 (two groups of five) and Division 2 (one group of four). The winner of Division 1A was to play the winner of Division 1B in the Division 1 final, with the top two in Division 2 facing off in the Division 2 final.
That’s three or four games for the 10 teams who didn’t reach the final and four or five for the four teams who did.
So how did a tournament that requires teams to play a maximum of five fixtures take all of 53 weeks to conclude?
Here’s a quick run down of how things panned out. Dr Crokes won their first three games in Division 1B by an average margin of 19.3 points. It’s hard to imagine how results like that are good preparation for the teams on the receiving end of such drubbings, and games like that hardly do Crokes any favours either.
Kilcummin gave a walkover to Rathmore on February 27 and a number of games were called off due to inclement weather on March 4.
Fixtures were still being played in all three groups in May, three months after the tournament began. Spa beat Cordal in the Division 2 final on May 20.
Crokes reached an agreement with Legion that their County League game on June 16 would double as the pair’s final Super League game. Crokes won that match by five points and so topped Division 1B with four wins from four.
The outcome of Division 1A was still unclear well into June. Three teams were still in contention. Fossa and Glenflesk were scheduled to play on June 24 with the winner to face Listry in a playoff to see who would top the group, but that match was postponed. All teams involved were expecting the tournament to eventually be played out at some stage in 2018.
Towards the end of the year you had a situation where Glenflesk were out of everything else, so the only remaining fixtures they had were in the Super League. How can you expect a group of players to hang around indefinitely for one more game, when that game is probably one of the least important games they’ll play all year? It’s ridiculous.
Fossa v Glenflesk was eventually played two weeks ago on February 3, 2019, doubling as group game for this year’s Super League. Glenflesk won so they played Listry on Sunday in the Division 1A playoff, which also trebled as both the 2018 Super League final and a 2019 group game. Glenflesk won.
(Presumably Division 1B winners Crokes were left off the hook, so to speak, because of their ongoing involvement in the All-Ireland Club Championship.)
So far in this year's tournament, All-Ireland Intermediate champions Kilcummin have already given walkover and teams are once again trying to double up Super League games with County League fixtures.
Not Fit for Purpose
The East Kerry Super League is supposed to be a competitive pre-season tournament, but it's not competitive and it isn't being run off in the pre-season. Simply put, it’s not fit for purpose. It occupies precious weekends in a schedule that is already so packed that it can only be described as a mess.
Teams clearly don’t care about it. If they did then they wouldn’t give walkovers, they wouldn’t be trying to double fixtures up with important games in other competitions, and it wouldn’t take over 12 months to run off a tournament that only requires teams to play four or five games in total.
As I’ve said before, the fixtures crisis isn’t the East Kerry Board’s fault. The entire GAA calendar needs a radical overhaul from start to finish. But as things stand in this part of the world, if the East Kerry league and championship were played off in a timely fashion, players would at least be guaranteed a decent break between one season and the next.
The O’Donoghue Cup is a fantastic tournament with great history, but there’s no denying that it has lost some of its shine in recent times. The fact that the competition didn’t finish until a few days before Christmas last year infuriated players and the consensus locally is that something has to change.
It remains to be seen how things will work out this year but one interesting solution for 2020 might be to combine the Super League and the O’Donoghue Cup to form one efficiently-run group and knockout championship. That way we’d have one East Kerry tournament that works, instead of two that don’t.
Pic: Séamus Healy.
Local author’s debut book makes Late Late Toy Show
Killarney art psychotherapist Katie O’Donoghue was delighted to spot her first children’s book on last Friday’s Late Late Toy Show! ‘The Little Squirrel Who Worried’ was written and illustrated by Katie, and published by Gill Books in July. With almost every eye in Ireland on the Toy Show every year, children’s authors, illustrators and publishers […]
Killarney art psychotherapist Katie O’Donoghue was delighted to spot her first children’s book on last Friday’s Late Late Toy Show!
‘The Little Squirrel Who Worried’ was written and illustrated by Katie, and published by Gill Books in July.
With almost every eye in Ireland on the Toy Show every year, children’s authors, illustrators and publishers compete for a much-coveted spot on the set. Aware that her book had been sent to Ryan, but not having heard anything from RTÉ, Katie was thrilled to see it in a prominent position. It was a wonderful surprise to discover ‘The Little Squirrel Who Worried’ had been placed in the front row of the book corner. There, it had a little chair of its own and was even embraced by a cuddly toy.
It was visible many times over the course of the evening, particularly during the book discussion, an incredibly proud moment for first-time author Katie.
“I have to admit, when I saw ‘The Little Squirrel Who Worried’ cradled in the teddy’s arms, I may have jumped up and down with excitement,” Katie told the Killarney Advertiser.
What began as a lockdown project while Katie was living in London and missing her family in Kerry, is providing comfort to children around the world.
Using a gentle story with gorgeous illustrations, Little Squirrel and his forest friends teach young people a variety of simple coping techniques.
“These skills will benefit children their entire lives and the book is even helpful for adults who are prone to worrying and overthinking,” she added.
No 2021 return for Killarney on Ice
By Michelle Crean Fans of the ice will be disappointed to hear that Killarney on Ice will not return for a second year. Following its huge popularity year on year since returning to Killarney in 2015, the promoters of Killarney on Ice are disappointed to confirm that they are unable to operate again this year. […]
By Michelle Crean
Fans of the ice will be disappointed to hear that Killarney on Ice will not return for a second year.
Following its huge popularity year on year since returning to Killarney in 2015, the promoters of Killarney on Ice are disappointed to confirm that they are unable to operate again this year.
Rising case numbers, uncertain COVID-19 restrictions, and insurance challenges have been the main drivers behind the decision not to open, according to the company.
As Kerry’s only festive ice rink, the facility has brought much fun and life to the town over the years, attracting thousands of people from all over the county, and indeed the whole country, with many families coming to stay overnight in Killarney and enjoying all that this great town has to offer.
As well as friends and families coming to skate, schools, youth clubs, sports teams and employees of local companies use the group booking discount rate to plan sessions on the ice, and Killarney on Ice would like to thank them all for their continuing loyalty.
“We sincerely hope to be back better and stronger in 2022, and we look forward to welcoming all of our valued customers,” Tim O’Donoghue, the promoter of the rink, told the Killarney Advertiser.
“In the meantime, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.”
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