There was a long-held perception in the Irish soccer community that the FAI were mismanaging their finances and that much-needed funding wasn’t ending up where it should.
Little did we know.
Although the full details are yet to be uncovered, it is now obvious from their pitiful display at the Oireachtas Committee for Sport that the FAI engaged in questionable financial activity – even beyond the outrageous salary and perks afforded to their beloved ex-Chief Executive/Executive Vice President, John Delaney.
As pressure on the association continued to mount, Delaney “stepped aside” on Monday, although the vast majority of us would prefer a bit more closure than that.
However, if the national media is anything to go by, he still has friends - albeit in some very low places.
As news broke two weeks ago of Delaney’s €100,000 “bridging loan” to his employers, a story that the embattled head of Irish soccer fought feverishly to injunct, the Secretary of the Kerry District League, John O’Regan, quickly sprang to his defence.
O’Regan, who is a member of the FAI Senior Council and a personal friend of Delaney’s, appeared on national television to support his stricken comrade. He even went so far as to say that Delaney should be “running the country”.
Last week, Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae also professed his admiration for Delaney in a tough-to-watch performance before the Oireachtas Committee, claiming that the former FAI boss would receive “the mother of all welcomes” when he comes to Kerry next month to open Castleisland AFC’s new pitch.
Politicians who appeared at the committee were ostensibly there to grill Delaney. Considering the circumstances, Healy-Rae’s obsequiousness seemed more than a little out of place.
Both O’Regan, supposedly representing the KDL and its members, and Healy-Rae, supposedly representing Kerry and his constituents, claimed that Delaney was a great friend to Kerry soccer. Kerry soccer wouldn’t be where it is today were it not for Delaney, they cried.
I’ll tell you a thing or two about Kerry soccer.
Around 10 clubs in Kerry have good facilities. Most clubs have poor facilities or no facilities at all. Some clubs still don’t have changing rooms, for example, and too many pitches are borderline dangerous (even in fine weather). The vast majority of “new” clubs (of which there are plenty) have to play all of their home games at the KDL’s own pitch, Mounthawk Park in Tralee.
My own club, Killarney Athletic, struggled for over a decade to get funding for an all-weather pitch, despite our status as a relatively big club with a large membership in a major town. We finally got a training field last year, and it’s great to have it, but when it rains heavily we will struggle to keep our main pitch playable.
The bottom line is that we need more full-size, all-weather surfaces in Kerry, like the one Celtic have here in Killarney.
The way O’Regan, who has been in his current role since 1976, and his friends at the KDL speak about Delaney, you’d swear he was the Robin Hood of Irish football.
It should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway: the money that filters down from the FAI to build pitches in Kerry is specifically meant for that exact purpose. That’s what the FAI is for. Well, that’s what it’s supposed to be for anyway. Another important point to note is that a lot of our funding comes directly from the government, not the FAI.
When it does come from the FAI, John Delaney showing up with an oversized novelty cheque isn’t an act of charity. It’s the CEO of an association doing his job, a job for which he was extremely well compensated over a very long period of time.
Unless, of course, O’Regan and Healy-Rae are suggesting that Delaney, who used to reside in Tralee, channelled money down to Kerry when it should have rightfully gone elsewhere?
And another thing, while I have you. If Delaney has left Kerry soccer in such great shape, and the league’s headquarters have been paid for in full (which I believe they have), how can O’Regan and co. continue to justify charging players admission into their own games at Mounthawk Park?
In 2017, they tried to charge us a fiver a head walking through the gate of a league final in which we were actually playing. Think about that for a second. Hundreds of paying customers heading back to Tralee to watch a final between two Killarney teams (we would have happily played in Celtic Park, by the way) and the league had the cheek to charge the players admission.
In the end, our chairman Mike O’Shea intervened and the club kindly forked over the entrance fee on our behalf.
Imagine if Legion or Crokes were playing in a county final above in the Park and they tried to charge the players at the gate. There would be holy war. But because it’s Kerry soccer, it’s somehow okay?
And where is our admission money going exactly? Paying for the floodlights? I’ll tell you a good one about the floodlights in Mounthawk Park while I have you.
Last season we were playing Dingle in a league game back there (Dingle also play some home games in Tralee). The game was on a weekday evening and as kick-off approached, it was already getting dark. It wasn’t too bad as the game started but 20 minutes in, visibility was dangerously low. I approached the ref and asked him what the story was with the lights.
“He’s putting them on at half-time,” he said.
“Can he not put them on now?”
The ref shrugged. He knew as well as we did that it was too dark to play but what could he do? At half-time, we waited for the lights to come on. No sign. Whoever had their finger on the switch was waiting for us to physically walk from the sideline back onto the pitch before turning them on. Jesus, it was sad.
And as soon as the match ended, the lights went off. We had to collect our personal belongings from the side of the pitch* and walk back to the clubhouse in the dark.
*Teams don’t leave their gear in the dressing rooms at Mounthawk Park for security reasons.
This is what we, as players, are dealing with.
When he came to Kerry to open Mounthawk Park in 2015, John Delaney made reference to the controversial €5 million payment the FAI received from FIFA to abandon their proposed legal action over the Thierry Henry handball affair.
The FAI tried to keep that hush money very hush-hush indeed and when fans found out about it, they were justifiably furious. It appeared as though the FAI had simply been bought off without telling its members what had transpired. But for Delaney, it was just another gas story to tell.
“I got five million off Blatter,” he joked. “If we had sent John O’Regan, we’d have got ten!”
This attitude typifies everything that’s wrong with the FAI and, by extension, Kerry soccer. This “cute hoor” culture prevails and the people in power are more interested propping up their pals than looking out for the people they’re supposed to represent.
Delaney and his cronies in Merrion Square have finally been found out. As far as I’m concerned, all of the Kerrymen who backed him on our behalf should be ashamed.
New free local fitness group to motivate people back to health
By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness Our mission at Activate is to extend and enhance the lifespan of 7,000 people in Killarney which is why we have set up a […]
By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness
Our mission at Activate is to extend and enhance the lifespan of 7,000 people in Killarney which is why we have set up a free health and fitness group.
Our primary vehicle is our gym but we do a lot of other stuff, too, like:
* Train kids how to exercise in schools
* Helping frontline workers with their mindset
* Supporting local fitness events and teams
* Running fun social events in the community
* Raise funds for local charities
We’ve won awards for this stuff, but the real reward is moving the Killarney community back towards health. So today, I’m thrilled to share a free Facebook group: ‘Fitness, Nutrition & Health in Killarney’ with you.
Visit this link to join: www.facebook.com/groups/fitnessinkillarney.
In that group, we’ll share helpful posts, tips, and support for everyone, whether you exercise at Activate or not. We’re also welcoming other health and fitness practitioners to join the group and help people find valuable and sensible advice around health and fitness.
When you join, Facebook will ask you a few questions, then my team will be around to support you and give you stuff to help.
If you have questions about fitness, health, longevity, nutrition, or exercise, go ahead and ask! If you have answers, please share! Let’s get some positive momentum going in Killarney!
What’s the deal with motivation?
I was having a discussion with a new client the other day and it came up that they sometimes feel a lack of motivation to keep working out. I know many of you feel like this sometimes, so I thought I would write about it today.
I really believe in discipline, as motivation is fleeting – but we’ll address this anyway. There are a few things that you can do to fool-proof the system. Here’s five ways.
1. Find an accountability partner:
When it comes to working out, having someone to hold you accountable can be a huge motivator. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or even a fitness coach, knowing that someone is counting on you to show up for your workout can help you stay on track.
2. Set realistic goals:
Setting goals is a great way to stay motivated, but it’s important to make sure they are realistic. If your goal is too lofty, you may find yourself getting discouraged when you don’t see results as quickly as you’d like. However, if your goals are achievable and realistic, you’ll be more likely to stick with your workout plan and see the results you want.
3. Find a workout routine you enjoy:
If you dread your workouts, it’s going to be very difficult to stay motivated. However, if you find an exercise routine that you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to stick with it. There are so many different types of workouts out there, so take some time to experiment and find one that fits your needs and interests. I feel a key facet many of us in the health and fitness industry miss regularly is making sure people are always engaged and challenged, so it remains fun to work out!
4. Reward yourself:
This one sounds a little weird, but for some, it can really work. One way to stay motivated is to reward yourself after setting a goal and reaching it. Whether it’s your favourite snack or a new piece of workout gear, treating yourself to something special can help keep you on track.
5. Get enough sleep:
This is the one thing we all hear that’s drilled into our brains – but for good reason! It’s important to get enough sleep when you’re trying to stay fit and healthy. When you’re well-rested, you’ll have more energy for your workouts and you’ll be less likely to skip them. So make sure to get plenty of rest each night!
Following these tips can help you stay motivated to workout, even when it feels like a struggle. Just remember to be patient, set realistic goals, and find an exercise routine that you enjoy. With a little effort, you can reach your fitness goals in no time!
Irish food only for Lisa’s September challenge
Could you survive on a diet of food grown only in Ireland for one month – well that’s the challenge one Kerry woman has set herself. Artist and food activist […]
Could you survive on a diet of food grown only in Ireland for one month – well that’s the challenge one Kerry woman has set herself.
Artist and food activist Lisa Fingleton plans the unusual action as she will eat only food grown in Ireland for the entire month.
That means no sugar, lemons, olive oil, or coffee with the challenge designed to highlight issues with Irish food security.
In the seven years since Lisa founded the 30-Day Local Food Challenge, food supply chains have been hit by a succession of market shocks highlighting Lisa’s concerns with increasing urgency.
From seed shortages caused by Brexit to the global market shock of COVID-19 to potential shortages caused by the ongoing war in Ukraine, to the recent conversation about the need to reduce the Irish National Herd in line with carbon emissions targets, Lisa says there has never been a more important time to talk about Irish food security.
“This year in particular in Europe we are seeing the impact of war on food and the global reliance on Ukraine as an important wheat producer,” said the former Kerry County Council Artist in Residence who lives in Ballybunion.
“This has shown us more than ever just how fragile our food systems are. We need to focus on building sustainable and resilient food systems on the island of Ireland. This year we are encouraging people to do one local meal a day so they can make it really simple and have Irish porridge for breakfast or really elaborate with a meal grown in your own garden.”
New free local fitness group to motivate people back to health
By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness Our mission at Activate is to extend and enhance the lifespan of 7,000 people...
Irish food only for Lisa’s September challenge
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