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EXCLUSIVE: Players fed up with fixtures farce

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The East Kerry Board’s decision to fix the O’Donoghue Cup first round game between Dr Crokes and Fossa for Sunday, December 9 means that the competition is unlikely to be wrapped up before Christmas Day. Players from certain clubs are now being forced to play from January right up to the end of December; a 12-month campaign with virtually no off-season. And we thought last year’s tournament was bad…

Well, it was. Holders Dr Crokes refused to field a team for their semi-final clash with Legion because it was fixed for the week before their Munster final against Nemo. They were subsequently thrown out of the competition.

This year, in a direct response to that particular situation, the East Kerry Board passed a motion stating that no club in a provincial decider can be asked to play O’Donoghue Cup the weekend before.

With Crokes facing Miltown/Malbay next Sunday (November 25), this weekend was off the table, so Fossa v Crokes will now take place two weeks after the Munster final. A lot of people are unhappy with this arrangement as it means that several other clubs have to hang around until Christmas to finish up for the year.

This time last year I floated the idea of getting rid of the Super League and playing the opening rounds of the O’Donoghue Cup at the start of the season.

This week I spoke to six prominent local footballers from six different clubs and asked them for their thoughts on that particular idea, and on the fixture debacle in general. Here’s what they had to say.

(All interviewees were granted anonymity.)

 

Player A

“I think it’s a brilliant competition and players love it, but both the players and the competition were disrespected a bit this year. It’s not fair to expect them to be playing into December and possibly January. It’s too much to ask. There are player welfare issues there.

“There’s a disconnect between the East Kerry Board and what the East Kerry Board want, and the players and what the players want. I think the board are quite happy to have this running so late because there’s less going on and there’s more coverage of it, but they’re totally overlooking players as people.

“Players have a lot of other commitments and I think they’re being overlooked by the board.

“The other element is that it’s a 12-month season. There’s no break, and there’s burnout both mentally and physically from it. I find it very difficult at this time of year because pitches are heavier, days are darker, the weather is shite. It’s not an enjoyable time to play.

“I’m very surprised the O’Donoghue Cup wasn’t sorted out this year. Last year the board implemented a ‘next available date’ policy and because of that a number of clubs didn’t want to play certain weekends. But the board held a hard line and basically said, ‘This fixture is made, if you’re not going to play you’ll be thrown out of the competition and you’ll be fined’.

“The Crokes were thrown out and I don’t think that was fair given what they’ve done for the competition over the last few years.

“This year there was a complete change because of the East Kerry team. East Kerry were in the County Championship and while they were involved, any O’Donoghue Cup games involving players in the East Kerry team were not played. There were plenty of free weekends and they weren’t taken.

“With the way that the calendar is in Kerry, where we have more competitions than any other county, the East Kerry Board couldn’t afford to be letting free weekends go and expect to have the O’Donoghue Cup finished at any sort of a decent time.

“I think there could have been O’Donoghue Cup games played before the County Championship started and also in gap weeks during the County Championship. I know if you’re East Kerry team management, ideally you’d like to keep guys together in those off weeks but there’s a bigger picture there in terms of getting the whole thing finished by the end of November or something reasonable like that.”

 

Player B

“You want a set time for games; April was brilliant for us. Somebody asked me to go on a stag next April and I said I can’t, because I know for a fact that we’re playing Club Championship for three or four weeks in a row. And that’s set.

“November and December should be time that you’re able to go away with the lads. That’s what frustrates fellas; waiting around on a Saturday or Sunday and not knowing what’s going to happen next week. It’s cruel on players, really.

“Crokes always, in my eyes, hold the East Kerry Championship to ransom because they’re in Munster and they can’t play their games. Everybody else is pissed off then. There must be a better way.

“The Super League is just a series of glorified challenge games. Maybe they should try to play two games of East Kerry Championship just before April instead.”

 

Player C

“It’s a disaster. They should be trying to play off a few rounds of it early – during the summer or before the summer. There are plenty of weekends off to play it. It’ll end up now, as it always does, with the clubs having hardly any pre-season.

“The pitches are poor at this time of year. You’d want to be finished by the end of October, not to mind having to go after Christmas. They need to do something about it.”

 

Player D

“I think the season is far too long as a whole. It’s 11 months and it needs to be more compact. Whether that means games being played midweek or earlier in the year, I don’t know. But it’s dragging on way too long.

“It’s unfair on players and on management. I understand that Crokes going far is stalling it but there has to be something done about it. The people involved are putting their whole lives on hold for an amateur sport, and they’re getting grief then if they’re not doing well.

“I don’t know what the East Kerry Board’s thoughts are. Is it because they’d be losing money (if the games were played midweek or earlier in the year)? But the players have to come first.

“I’d be all for (playing O’Donoghue Cup games instead of Super League). Let’s be honest, the Super League is a pre-season tournament. It’s a warm-up. Teams can play friendlies any day of the week; Super League is only taking up weekends.

“Maybe it might not fit into Crokes’ schedule when they’re likely to be playing the All-Ireland series into March, but sure they opted out of the O’Donoghue Cup last year because it wasn’t fitting into their schedule then either. Something has to change and teams are just going to have to grin and bear it.”

“It’s down to the people who are making the fixtures, the East Kerry Board. They have to make a compromise and put some midweek fixtures into play, and bring some of the games forward.

“It’s hard to get motivated at this time of year. Take Rathmore for example. They played Friday night against Spa and that was their first game out in seven weeks. Now they’re waiting around for another five weeks to play again. It’s hard to stay at the top of your game. You’re hanging around in the winter months when you’d like to be doing other activities. From a player’s point of view, it’s certainly not ideal.

“I think every player will be happier if they make the season shorter.”

 

Player E

“My team is already out of the championship so it doesn’t really affect me personally, but if we were still in it I’d think it’s a disgrace. We started training at the start of January this year – some teams started in November/December last year. If we were still in it going into Christmas I think my team and I would be fairly sick of it!

“At the end of the day, it’s an amateur sport but you’re sacrificing things in your life, almost like you’re a professional player (weddings, parties, holidays etc.)

“Maybe playing (some O’Donoghue Cup) at the start of the year could work, but having East Kerry Championship before Club Championship starts might not be a great idea as teams peak at different times. They might want to focus totally on one competition rather than two important championships so close together. But it’s definitely worth trying!

“I think Super League should be scrapped though. My club are finished for the year and aren’t training, but we still have a game left in the Super League and if we win that (if it’s even played) we still have another game left! Super league games are just like challenge matches really and are just there to experiment with tactics and to give players a chance to show themselves.”

 

Player F

“It’s different for us (Dr Crokes) because if we manage to win the Munster final, our season will be carrying over into next year and we’ll be training anyway. So personally I don’t really care about playing up until Christmas. I think we’re just used to it at this stage.

“But I can see it from other teams’ perspectives. Some teams played their last game in August/September. I understand that they’re training for eight or nine weeks in a row with no games.

“Our situation is different. Two weeks ago we were talking and we realised that if we won all our games, we’d have eight games before Christmas. People get tired. But we haven’t won the O’Donoghue Cup in four years so it’s not something taken for granted in Crokes. We were available to play the Fossa game earlier in the year but the East Kerry Board pulled it.

“Even if they scrapped the Super League and gave fellas January and February off, you’d have a chance to go away for a couple weeks at the start of the year.”

What do you think? Does something need to change? Join the conversation today by emailing sport@killarneyadvertiser.ie or tweeting @AdvertiserSport or @AdamMoynihan.

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Pharmacy jabs begin today

By Michelle Crean  Pharmacists across Kerry – including four in Killarney – are ready to begin giving the Johnson and Johnson Janssen jabs to the over 50s as the latest stage of the vaccine rollout. Kennellys Pharmacy at The Reeks Gateway, Park Road Care Plus on Countess Road, Boots Deerpark Shopping Centre, and Sheahans Pharmacy […]

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By Michelle Crean
 

Pharmacists across Kerry – including four in Killarney – are ready to begin giving the Johnson and Johnson Janssen jabs to the over 50s as the latest stage of the vaccine rollout.

Kennellys Pharmacy at The Reeks Gateway, Park Road Care Plus on Countess Road, Boots Deerpark Shopping Centre, and Sheahans Pharmacy on Main Street will be booking people in groups as each vile lasts just a number hours once opened.

Staff at Kennellys Pharmacy at The Reeks are ready to welcome in their first vaccine participants today (Friday). Each had pre-booked their slot, according to Dispensary Manager Christina O’Grady.

“We are starting today for the over 50s only with the Janssen Johnson and Johnson one dose jab,” she told the Killarney Advertiser.

She said that they have been busy in the pharmacy all week booking people in, however for now, depending on demand and supply available, they’ll be vaccinating people two days a week.

“We’re taking a list of people. It’ll probably be only two mornings a week – it all depends on the uptake.”

Pharmacist Finbarr Kennelly said it’s a great way to give a vaccine to those who may have missed theirs.

“It’s an opportunity for the over 50s who have missed their vaccine for whatever reason. The advantage is that it’s a one shot vaccine.”

Anyone who’d like to book in for their vaccine can call Kennellys on 064 6639427.

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Killarney Advertiser – Weekly Jobs Round-Up

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See a job you like? Click the link and apply in seconds.

The Ross – Various Roles 

Killeen House Hotel – Various Roles

Earls Court House Hotel – Various Roles

O’Sheas Fruit & Veg – Various Roles

Castlerosse Park Resort – Various Roles

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€500k to help re-start Killarney’s live music scene

By Sean Moriarty A number of Killarney venues were elated this week to learn that funding to the tune of €500k has been announced to help re-start the town’s live music scene. Of the €1,001,944 in funding announced this week for the county Killarney is to receive over half with funds to assist the Gleneagle […]

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By Sean Moriarty

A number of Killarney venues were elated this week to learn that funding to the tune of €500k has been announced to help re-start the town’s live music scene.

Of the €1,001,944 in funding announced this week for the county Killarney is to receive over half with funds to assist the Gleneagle Hotel Killarney/INEC Arena, Celtic Steps The Show, Scott’s Hotel, and Courtney’s Bar.

The funding, announced by Minister for Education and Kerry TD Norma Foley on Tuesday, is in place to assist commercial venues, producers and promoters in Kerry to plan live events over the summer months.

The scheme, managed by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media will support live performances, particularly where capacity for live attendance is restricted due to COVID-19.

The funding will make live performances viable or alternatively make them available online if audiences cannot attend due to restrictions.

“I welcome this funding which will provide an enormous boost to the live entertainment industry in Kerry,” Minister Foley said.

“This money will help to facilitate the delivery of exciting programmes of activities over the coming summer and autumn period. This funding will also provide a vital lift to those talented performers, artists, technicians, creative and performance support staff across the sector, who have not been able to work due to the pandemic.”

Four venues and promoters in Killarney will receive a total of €560,646 in grant aid to help re-start the live music and performing arts industries in the town after months of lockdown.

REACTION

The Gleneagle Hotel Killarney/INEC Arena will receive €380,822 for live music shows and for the pre-recording of live material from acts of the future.

“We are delighted with this week’s announcement on funding,” Mark Egan, Director of the Gleneagle INEC Arena told the Killarney Advertiser. “We can now look ahead to implementing a programme of events that will provide employment for performers, artists, technicians and support staff many of whom have not had work for months. We have a fantastic, diverse programme in the pipeline and we can’t wait to get the various artists, crews and event suppliers back on site and back to the work we all love. We thank Minister Catherine Martin and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media for making this grant available.”

Celtic Steps The Show will receive €84,627 to allow it livestream performances from its Killarney Racecourse Theatre.

For Celtic Steps producer/director David Rae the funding presents more than just an opportunity to get the show back on the road. He will create 43 paid positions from dancers and musicians to sound and lighting engineers and even a COVID-19 Compliance Officer.

He is awaiting further guidance on permission to allow a limited audience attend a Celtic Steps performance but he hopes by early July to have a series of online performances up and running.

“This is what it is all about, getting these people back to work after so long being unemployed,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “I will need all of these people, from two days before I start to two days after, it is almost like building a festival from scratch and we can’t thank the minister and department enough for this chance.”

Scott’s Hotel will receive the same figure as Celtic Steps for live performances for tourists across the summer.

Courtney’s Bar on Plunkett St will receive €10,570 for a number of gigs that will feature local musicians.

“This is fantastic news,” manager Brian Murphy said. “We have been associated with live music in Killarney for a long time so we are delighted to get the funding and allow live music to continue.”

Like Celtic Steps, he is still waiting for confirmation on the format of the funded gigs.

“It is hard to see a bar gig with an audience going ahead but one of the stipulations of the grant is that if we cannot do a live gig under current guidelines, we have to do it online.”

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