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Scrapping provincial football championships is the logical next step




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.



Killarney postcode V93 home to the county’s most-expensive properties

With properties both for rent and for sale in short supply, prices in the Killarney area have remained strong. In fact, houses with the V93 eircode were, once again, the […]




With properties both for rent and for sale in short supply, prices in the Killarney area have remained strong.

In fact, houses with the V93 eircode were, once again, the most expensive homes in Kerry over the past 12 months according to data published by the CSO Residential Property Price Index. The report shows that in the year to December 2023, the average cost of buying a home in Kerry was €242,000 up 5% from the previous year’s figure of €230,000
Nationally that figure now stands at €327,000.
The average house price within the V93 eircode region was €284,000, 17% approx. above the average price for a home within the county.
With supply levels at an all time low and with very little new construction in the pipeline, there is little sign of this changing in the immediate term.

Commenting on the market, Ted Healy of DNG, has expressed concern with the low volume of properties available for sale at present.
‘We have lots of interested buyers seeking property in the Killarney area but unfortunately, we cannot satisfy the demand at present. The past 12 months has seen us securing sales in record time for record levels.”

DNG Ted Healy will be launching a new development of townhouses in the Woodlawn area to the market in the coming months and report that demand is exceptionally high.
The expect these properties to sell out in record time.
And with construction due to commence shortly on another scheme of detached houses on Muckross Road, it is looking like a busy year ahead.
However, this will not be enough to satisfy the demand at present. Properties within the V93 area are highly sought after and in very short supply, resulting in strong prices being achieved.
So is now a good time to sell your property? Yes, according to DNG Ted Healy who is actively seeking properties for sale to satisfy their ever expanding list of buyers.


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500,000 coffee cups prevented from going to landfill in Killarney

The team behind Killarney’s ban on single-use cups is launching an adult education programme later this year. Since its inception in July last year (up to December 31), 506,000 cups […]




The team behind Killarney’s ban on single-use cups is launching an adult education programme later this year.

Since its inception in July last year (up to December 31), 506,000 cups have been prevented from going to landfill or becoming litter in Killarney National Park.
Additionally, the scheme has saved 872,413 litres of water and 279 trees.
The decision to ban single-use cups was underpinned by complaints that some of Killarney’s most visited beauty spots were being polluted and studies of clean-ups in the National Park revealed that one of the most common forms of waste recovered was single-use coffee cups.
With this in mind, the team behind the project, in conjunction with the Munster Technology University, will launch an adult education programme.
Late last year secondary school students attended a series of workshops in Killarney House hosted by the Killarney Coffee Cup project.
The session began with the task of matching the common items of litter to the time it takes for them to decompose.
The items ranged from crisp packets, banana skins and single-use coffee cups. The aim of this activity was to highlight the importance of minimising waste and litter, to protect the unique Biosphere Reserve that is Killarney National Park.
The plan now is to roll out a series of workshops aimed at adults with support from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
“This is still in the very early stages,” said project lead Louise Byrne who is also the Sustainability Manager at The Killarney Park and The Ross hotels. “Why should we care?”
Byrne cited a recent article by The Guardian newspaper in Britain.
“The entire lifecycle of disposable cups, from raw material extraction to production and transportation, requires significant energy, contributing to environmental degradation. The slow decomposition of disposable cups, especially those with plastic linings, can lead to the release of microplastics into the environment and on the off chance that your disposable cup winds up in waste bound for incineration, that process can release pollutants into the air,” said a report on coffee cup waste by the Kent School of Business and published in the London newspaper.
Byrne believes there is still far too much litter, including coffee cups, ending up disposed of in the National Park and this is one of the key drivers behind the new adult education programme.
Meanwhile the scheme won two more awards this week. Eco Hero group at the Outsider Magazine gave the scheme its Eco Hero award and the scheme won the Green Transformation Award at the Green Awards.

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