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Opinion: Football at this level is a job and players need time off




You have to admire the O’Donoghue Cup. It just refuses to quit.

After the cancellation of last Sunday’s final due to adverse weather conditions, the season will now end for Legion and Dr Crokes today, the 15th of December.

I’ll stop short of blaming the GAA or the East Kerry Board for Storm Atiyah but it’s hard not be frustrated at this stage. Just like last year, and the year before, our footballers are not going to get a proper break before the next season kicks off again in January.

Legion actually began training for the 2019 season in December of 2018 so they’ve been on the road for 12 full months. As for Dr Crokes, due to their involvement in the 2018/19 Munster and All-Ireland Club Championships (which ran until March 17), they basically never stopped training at all.

This, to my mind, represents a major player welfare issue and I find it incredible that in this modern era of heightened sensitivity and awareness when it comes to physical and mental health, the GAA think that it’s acceptable for players to be playing and training for 12 months of the year.


Last year I spoke to a number of players about the O’Donoghue Cup and how it was being run off and, to a man, they were all quite critical of the board. Personally I would agree that the staging of our district competitions could be improved upon. Actually, I would argue that one of the competitions, the Super League, shouldn’t be staged at all.

Dr Crokes’ participation in the Munster Club Championship is often cited as the main impediment to completing the East Kerry Championship in a timely fashion. This year, the Crokes didn’t qualify. Yet here we are again, deep into December, and little has changed.

I suppose it’s easy to direct our ire at the East Kerry Board because right now it’s their competition that we’re waiting on, but that wouldn’t be right.

There’s a far bigger picture here. The current GAA schedule, at both intercounty and club level, is an absolute mess. There are simply too many competitions and the only way of fixing it is by adopting a blank canvas approach to the entire schedule. Sadly, the GAA seem to disagree.


I put up a tweet last Sunday saying: “Legion v Dr Crokes has been called off ‘in the interest of player safety’. If the GAA really cared about player welfare there wouldn't be football in December in the first place.”

If you were to go through the likes the tweet got you’d recognise a lot of the names. Crokes players, Legion players, club players from up and down the country, current Kerry players, recently retired Kerry players; GAA stakeholders who understand the ways in which the current schedule affects the lives of footballers, because it does or has affected their lives for years.

And then you look at those who tend to take a dim view of comments like mine. It’s almost exclusively non-players; one gets the impression that many of these people would be delighted if the final of the East Kerry Championship took place on Christmas Day. Wouldn’t that be a nice tradition?

Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but is it possible that the players know what they’re talking about, seeing as how they’re the ones actually dealing with the problem year in, year out?

Looking from the outside, as officers, ex-players and supporters are, it is perhaps difficult to appreciate how hard it is to be a Gaelic footballer in 2019. It’s not a pastime.

These days, players are expected to prepare as if they were operating at a professional level. They have to adapt their diets. They have to do private gym sessions. They have to abstain from alcohol. They’re expected to put their team above all other considerations. As one coach told us, “you should be making excuses to come to training, not excuses to miss it”.

And all of these demands exist before a backdrop of fixture chaos, particularly at club level where you can go weeks and weeks without playing games, or even knowing when your next game might be.


Casual observers tend to picture your standard footballer as a young guy without a care in the world but players have girlfriends, wives, kids, full-time jobs, college commitments (often in a different county) and countless additional responsibilities that have to be managed around their other job: being a Gaelic footballer.

And make no mistake, playing football at the level that we’re talking about is not a hobby. It’s a job. For many players, it’s more important than their nine-to-five, and it has a greater impact on their mental wellbeing.

When things go to plan, sport has the power to elevate and energise. Unfortunately things don’t always go to plan and when that happens, sport also has the power to deflate and depress. The psychological strain that sport puts on players is far greater than many people realise. And this is before you factor in the physical demands, which are also intense.

When you give yourself to a sport and to a team, you really do give all of yourself. Again, it’s not a pastime. It’s a job. And a hard one at that.

Is it unreasonable to ask for some time off?


Pic: Séamus Healy.

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Is it a good time to sell your property?

By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year. The quarterly report found the market had held up […]




By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY

Recently published property outlooks are suggesting single digit growth in prices this year.

The quarterly report found the market had held up better than evidence had suggested in 2022. The number of vendors cutting asking prices remained at low levels, while many house prices were being settled above asking prices.

However, the report warned that the resilience of the housing marking is set to be tested this year. It found annual asking price inflation slowed to six percent nationwide, meaning the asking price for the average home in Ireland is now €330,000.

There were 15,000 available properties for sale on in the fourth quarter of the year – an improvement on the same time last year but still below pre-pandemic levels.

Average time to sale agreed was 2.7 months nationwide which the report said is indicative of a very tight housing market.

The report said it expects to see 28,400 house completions in 2022, exceeding its previous forecast of 26,500 finished units.

The author of the report, Conall MacCoille, Chief Economist at stockbrokers Davy, said it appeared the market had held up better than evidence had suggested.

“The number of vendors cutting their asking prices is still at low levels. Also, transactions in Q4 were still being settled above asking prices, indicative of a tight market,” he said.

Recent months had seen worrying trends in the homebuilding sector, with housing starts slowing, and the construction PMI survey pointing to the flow of new development drying up.

“We still expect housing completions will pick up to 28,400 in 2022 and 27,000 in 2023. However, the outlook for 2024 is far more uncertain. The Government’s ambitious plans to expedite planning processes are welcome although, as ever, the proof will be in the pudding,” he added.

Locally, and unsurprisingly, the lack of supply of new and second-hand properties remains the dominant issue. There has been very little new construction due largely to the rising cost of construction, labour, materials and utilities which in turn is putting pressure on the second hand market.

This market proved particularly strong in 2022 with active bidding experienced on the majority of house sales and a large proportion of guide prices being generally exceeded.

The detached family home end of the market is particularly strong with increased competition for a limited number of available well located family homes.

So, what lies ahead and is it a good time to sell your property?

The answer is a tight market with scarcity of supply being a factor. If selling now you will benefit greatly from a lack of supply of available homes (therefore less competition) provided your property is marketed correctly of course!

For anyone considering placing their property on the market, contact DNG Ted Healy 064 6639000 for genuine honest advice on how to achieve the best possible price for your home.

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Tourism VAT rate should be “continued indefinitely”

A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its […]




A Kerry Fianna Fáil Councillor believes the current 9% tourism VAT rate should be continued indefinitely despite “the allegation that some hotels were not passing on the saving to its customers”.

The reduced VAT rate of 9% was introduced by the Government in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 to the hospitality sector.

“I believe a return to a 13.5% Tourism VAT rate would be counterproductive at this stage, to small and medium businesses that welcome visitors to our country and our county,” Councillor Michael Cahill said.

“Catered food is already charged at 13.5%, alcohol at 23% and accommodation presently at 9%. This sector is providing pretty decent returns to the Exchequer and should be supported. All parties in this debate, including the Government and accommodation providers, should review their position and ensure their actions do not contribute to ‘killing the Goose that laid the Golden Egg’.”

He explained that the tourism industry is “in a very volatile market”, as can be seen by the enormous challenges “posed by COVID-19 in recent years”.

“A grain of rice could tip the balance either way and great care must be taken not to damage it irreparably. We are all aware that the next six to 12 months will be extremely difficult for many businesses with the increase in the cost of oil and gas, etc,, and a return to the 13.5% VAT rate will, in my opinion, close many doors. If a minority are ‘price gouging’, then it should be possible to penalise them and continue to support the majority who offer value for money to our visitors.”

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