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Scrapping provincial football championships is the logical next step

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Here in Kerry our attitude towards the Munster Championship can be summed up by the following query, which is heard on every street, in every bar and in the car to every game at the dawn of summer.

“Is it on in Cork or Killarney this year?”

A Cork v Kerry football final is such a regular occurrence we simply assume that it will eventually come to pass, and our only concern is whether or not we’ll get a big day out in Killarney, or if a road trip over the border is on the cards.

And with good reason. Kerry and Cork have completely dominated the Munster SFC since its inception in 1888. Between them, the pair have won a staggering 117 out of 130 finals and since 1935 their record has been even more ridiculous.

Kerry and Cork have won 82 of the last 83 Munster finals, Clare’s shock victory over Kerry in 1992 the only anomaly over that period.

Kerry’s haul of 80 championships dwarfs that of Cork, who have just 37. Cork’s haul of 37 dwarfs that of Tipperary, who have just 9. Tipperary’s haul of nine dwarfs that of Clare, who have just two.

The other teams, Limerick and Waterford, have just one Munster Championship apiece and both of those triumphs came before the turn of the 20th century (1896 and 1898 respectively).

Kerry are currently seeking their seventh provincial title in as many years and ahead of next weekend’s semi-final against Clare, Peter Keane’s men are 1/16 to lift the nameless trophy on June 22.

All things considered, the Munster SFC is surely one of the most relentlessly uncompetitive competitions in world sport. The Scottish Premiership is the only tournament I can think of that can rival it for sheer predictability, but you might be surprised to learn that the Celtic/Rangers stranglehold is actually weaker than the one Cork and Kerry have in Munster.

The Glasgow giants have claimed 104 out of 123 Scottish league titles (84.5%) while Cork and Kerry have won of 117 out of 130 Munster Championships (90%).

And in Scotland, there’s a far more even split. Celtic have 50 and Rangers have 54. Their current period of domination has been longer, however: the last team outside of the top two to win the Scottish league was Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen in 1985.

Leinster and Connacht

And this isn’t just a Munster problem. Fair enough, the Ulster Championship has a far more interesting and balanced past. Cavan have 37 (36 came between 1891 and 1969) and the rest of the championships have been fairly evenly divided amongst the rest.

But both Leinster and Connacht are terribly top heavy.

Galway and Mayo have won 93 of the 121 Connacht SFCs, with Roscommon accounting for 23 of the remaining 28.

In Leinster, Dublin have won 57 titles including 13 of the last 16. If you add in Meath (21) that’s 78 out of 121.

Outside of Ulster, 291 (or 77%) of the 372 provincial championships have been won by just six counties.

And despite the growing level of professionalism that can be seen in traditionally weaker footballing counties, there’s no sign of this disparity changing any time soon. Mayo won five in a row between 2011 and 2015. Kerry can make it seven in a row next month. The Dubs are on for eight.

Yet whenever the topic of restructuring the football championship rears its head, you have certain people who say that the provincial championships should be preserved at all costs.

Why? Who is benefitting from these competitions?

Are Limerick, Waterford, Tipp and Clare, who have one title between them in 83 years? Are Wicklow, Westmeath, Longford, Carlow, Laois and Wexford, who have one title in 50 years? What about Sligo and Leitrim, who have sampled provincial glory just five times between them in 121 years?

And it’s not just the small teams who suffer. It’s obviously great to be winning but there’s a very strong argument to be made that teams like Kerry and Dublin aren’t actually gaining anything from the provincials either.

The National League final was played on March 31. The first round of the Super 8 fixtures will take place on July 13. In Kerry’s case, that’s 15 weeks with just two games, neither of which will come against Division 1 opposition, in between.

Up in Ulster they say we have it handy down here in Kerry but I have no doubt whatsoever that Peter Keane would much rather have regular (or at least competitive) games as he prepares his squad for the business end of the season. Jim Gavin likewise.

The fact of the matter is that the provincial championships are not benefitting the vast majority of counties. They are largely uncompetitive and frequently unexciting, and their prestige has undoubtedly plummeted over the course of the last two decades.

You would nearly be blue in the face from saying it but the National League works because teams are grouped based on their ability. Apart from geography, there’s no good reason for Dublin (57 Leinster titles) to be competing with the likes of Wicklow (zero Leinster titles).

Thankfully, there now appears to be genuine willingness on the part of the GAA to revamp the championship. A Fixtures Review Group is being set up and it has been agreed that no idea will be off the table. Encouragingly, the Club Players Association, who have for a number of years lobbied for a solution to the current fixtures crisis, will be represented on the committee.

In a recent proposal, I suggested disconnecting the provincials from the All-Ireland Championships and playing them separately in February, but this would only be for the sake of compromise. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if I can see the GAA (and the provincial councils) agreeing to scrap them altogether, although looking at the numbers, it does appear to be the next logical step.

Above: David Clifford of Kerry in action against Clare in last year’s Munster SFC. Kerry won 0-32 to 0-10. Pic: Paudie Healy.

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Green light for teen accommodation

By Michelle Crean  Plans for sheltered accommodation to house homeless teenagers in foster care have been given the go ahead. An Bord Pleanala has approved a three-storey building in Flemings Lane just off High Street, which will have eight bedrooms, two one bedroom apartments and one two bedroom apartment. The teens living within the premises […]

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By Michelle Crean
 

Plans for sheltered accommodation to house homeless teenagers in foster care have been given the go ahead.

An Bord Pleanala has approved a three-storey building in Flemings Lane just off High Street, which will have eight bedrooms, two one bedroom apartments and one two bedroom apartment.

The teens living within the premises will be supervised by applicant Eileen O’Brien who will live on the ground floor of the premises.

The two one-bed apartments on the second floor would either be rented out or used for independent living for the teenagers as they reach adulthood.

The two-bed apartment will be on the third floor. There are also plans for balconies at second and third floor levels.

The proposed apartment building is contemporary in design with a mix of stone and render finish on the lower floors and synthetic burned timber finish on the upper floors. The second floor is recessed at the front and the third floor is recessed at the front and the rear with a decorative feature on the front elevation comprising dark grey timber steel poles. The building will also have a flat roof.

Planning permission was granted subject to 14 conditions including a two-metre high boundary wall to be constructed on south, south-western boundaries of the site and there’s to be no overnight commercial guest accommodation.

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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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