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Fixtures Crisis Update: Minor changes confirmed for 2019 O’Donoghue Cup

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Any hopes that local players had of seeing a new kind of O’Donoghue Cup in 2019 were dashed last week when board members and delegates at the East Kerry Annual Convention confirmed only a few minor changes to the current league and championship structure.

In fairness to the Board, they didn’t receive much direction from the clubs; only three clubs submitted motions (Fossa, Gneeveguilla and Rathmore) and just four of the 13 motions pertained to the O’Donoghue Cup. And I have to admit that despite the undoubted upswell in player support for change, I’m not surprised the clubs didn’t pipe up and ask for something different.

As I said multiple times before Christmas, and as I was told multiple times by club officials, nothing will happen unless players come together, decide what they want, and put it down in writing. That didn’t happen, so the clubs didn’t know what the players wanted, so they couldn’t tell the Board, so the Board were under no obligation to change anything.

Complaining down the pub is one thing, and as players we’re all well capable of that, but affecting real change takes action.

One thing I noticed in my conversations with local players before Christmas is that while everyone felt the same way about the Super League and playing the O’Donoghue Cup into December, when it came down to actually doing something, i.e. putting something in writing, they were reluctant to place their own clubs in the firing line.

The feeling was, “yeah, we want it to be sorted out, but we want to focus on football at the moment” or “we had a bad year so we don’t want to be complaining” or “it didn’t affect us this year”.

Unfortunately teams seem to be adopting a very short-sighted approach to a long-term problem. But look, fellas want to protect their own house too, which I understand.

Changes
As it turned out, a couple of positive (if minor) steps were actually taken by the Board to try and get their competitions played off in a timelier fashion.

One of the measures passed at the convention will see, “where possible”, the Preliminary Round (one fixture) and Round 1 games played in July and August, “if dates are available”. This motion, which was tabled by the East Kerry CCC, also included a line about playing midweek games but that idea did not end up getting the green light.

Introducing midweek fixtures was one of the key recommendations from the players I spoke to so its exclusion at the last minute is disappointing to say the least.

It was also decided that the four senior clubs (Rathmore, Kilcummin, Legion and Dr Crokes) will now automatically receive byes into the quarter-finals of the O’Donoghue Cup.

(Rathmore had tabled a similar motion stating that senior clubs should be seeded. Fossa had suggested an alternative system for seeding the top three teams that would have given priority to clubs who qualify for Munster first and foremost, then to the reigning O’Donoghue Cup champions, and then to the runners-up from the previous year if necessary. If those criteria still only produced two teams, a random team who had a player on the Kerry senior team would also have been seeded.)

Potential problems
If the first round games do actually get played in July and August, any teams with Kerry players will have to make do without. They won’t be too happy about playing championship without their best player(s), though looking at the current Kerry camp it may only affect three East Kerry clubs in 2019.

Between the timing of the first two rounds and the seeding of the top teams, the Board are obviously handing an advantage to the senior clubs, which isn’t ideal. But look at it this way: there has been a level playing field for the past 15 years yet only two teams have actually gone and won it.

When you group 13 teams based purely on their geographical location, there’s no reason to assume the competition will be balanced and it’s not necessarily the job of the Board to even things up either.

At the moment you realistically have seven junior clubs who have very little chance of reaching the final regardless of where they’re inserted into the competition. At the other end of the scale you have the four senior clubs who have all reached finals in recent times and all could realistically win it.

These new measures are likely to impact the two intermediate clubs, Spa and Glenflesk, more than most. Both have good, young teams and both could quite easily beat one of the senior clubs on their day, but they now have to start at least one round earlier than Crokes, Legion, Kilcummin and Rathmore. This could be a significant hindrance depending on the draw. And there’s nothing to say that Spa and Glenflesk won’t have players in with Kerry either this year or in the years to come.

The Crokes Rule
Dr Crokes and Firies effectively pulled out of the O’Donoghue Cup in 2017 when they were given fixtures the weekend before their respective Munster and county finals. Losing the tournament’s most successful team was a major blow to the East Kerry Board so in 2018 they implemented a new law that guaranteed teams a free weekend the week before a club final. That didn’t last long.

That particular recommendation was deleted at last week’s convention as it was contrary to a pre-existing County Board ruling, so if Crokes, or any other team for that matter, reach a Munster final in 2019, they could have an O’Donoghue Cup fixture the week before. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

Will the changes work?
It’s not what the players wanted but I think there was at least some effort made to streamline the O’Donoghue Cup this year, and the Board deserve credit for that. On paper the changes have the potential to make a difference but I must admit, I have some doubts.

For instance, if Spa are playing Fossa in August and East Kerry are playing championship the following week, will the O’Donoghue Cup game go ahead the week before? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

Note: The East Kerry Board were not available for comment. They have not replied to any requests for comments since our first O’Donoghue Cup article in November 2018.

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Fans return to Fitzgerald Stadium after eight months

By Sean Moriarty Officials from Fitzgerald Stadium remain hopeful that crowd capacity at the venue can be increased to 500 spectators in time for the Munster final on July 25 – subject to both national health guidelines and Kerry qualifying for the game. Last Saturday evening’s National League semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone was the […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Officials from Fitzgerald Stadium remain hopeful that crowd capacity at the venue can be increased to 500 spectators in time for the Munster final on July 25 – subject to both national health guidelines and Kerry qualifying for the game.

Last Saturday evening’s National League semi-final between Kerry and Tyrone was the first game at the stadium since the 2020 Kerry Petroleum Intermediate Club Football Championship Quarter-Final when Glenbeigh-Glencar played Beaufort on October 4 last year.

Due to current restrictions only 200 fans were allowed attend Saturday’s big match. That will remain in place for Kerry’s opening Munster Championship tie with Clare on June 26.

“It had been more than eight months since Fitzgerald Stadium welcomed back fans to the venue,” stadium PRO Tatyana McGough told the Killarney Advertiser. “Everything went exceptionally well.”

She is hopeful that more restrictions will be eased on July 5, paving the way for an increase in capacity to 500 fans in time for the July 25 Munster Final.

“It is likely that from July 5 up to 500 spectators may be permitted to attend games. We hope this number will increase for the Munster Final. If it is a Cork versus Kerry Munster Final the game will be fixed for Sunday July 25 at 4pm in the Fitzgerald Stadium. The stadium’s staff are very confident in being able to host any number of fans that may be allowed.”

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Garda appeal to park legally at beaches and public amenities

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An Garda Siochana is appealing to the public to park legally in designated car parks and spaces when visiting beaches, beauty spots and other public amenities. 

The good weather has seen an increase in dangerous illegal parking at these locations across the country in recent weeks. An Garda Siochana wants people to enjoy the summer but do so safely.

Parking illegally can lead to unnecessary risk and dangers such as pedestrians being forced to walk along dangerous roads. It can also prevent emergency services from gaining access to these amenities a seaside locations which could lead to the loss of life. 

“We encourage the public to plan their journeys and think safety first when parking your vehicle,” the Gardai said in a statement. 

“The outcome of parking illegally could be far more serious than a FCPN or vehicle towing and puts others and your own life at risk. 

An Garda Siochana reminds and encourages the public to social distance and follow public health guidelines when attending these locations this Summer.

An Garda Siochana is also supporting National Water Safety Awareness Week (June 14th – 20th). Information on this campaign and general water safety can be found on Water Safety Irelands Website – www.watersafety.ie/national-water-safety-awareness-week/

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IFTA nomination for Jessie Buckley

By Michelle Crean  Killarney’s Jessie Buckley is up for an award as the 2021 Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA) nominations were announced this week. Jessie has been nominated as Best Actress in a Lead Role Film category for her work in Charlie Kaufman’s surreal ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’. Winners will be announced at […]

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By Michelle Crean
 

Killarney’s Jessie Buckley is up for an award as the 2021 Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA) nominations were announced this week.

Jessie has been nominated as Best Actress in a Lead Role Film category for her work in Charlie Kaufman’s surreal ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’. Winners will be announced at a virtual IFTA awards ceremony which will be broadcast on Virgin Media One on Sunday, July 4.

Other well-known Irish actors up for awards include Brendan Gleeson for ‘The Comey Rule’, Paul Mescal for ‘Normal People’, Dervla Kirwan ‘Smother’ and Gabriel Byrne for ‘Death of a Ladies Man’.

Over the past few months during lockdown, the Irish Academy Members have been busy viewing, deliberating, and shortlisting the very best work from across great Irish films, performances, and achievements.

Nominations have been shortlisted by Irish Academy members alongside a specialist jury panel of industry experts from around the world.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no physical IFTA Awards Ceremony until March 2022, in keeping with COVID guidelines and best international practice.

Further details about the show and the international guest participants will be announced shortly.

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