As Tim Murphy patiently waited for some of the delegates to put themselves on mute, he didn’t look entirely comfortable in his seat. Monday’s County Board meeting was about to begin via Zoom (once the background noise had ceased), and the Kerry GAA chair knew what was coming.
The manner in which he and his fellow officers had handled the recruitment process to find the “next” Kerry manager had been criticised in certain quarters. The Brosna native was about to get it in the neck.
Sitting in the pavilion in Austin Stack Park with just Peter Twiss (secretary) and Leona Twiss (PRO) for company, Murphy invited and then noted a string of questions and concerns from eight club representatives. The words “transparency”, “bias”, “unfair treatment” and “mishandled” came up more than once. One delegate spoke of being contacted by people who are “very unhappy and annoyed” at the way the situation played out. Another referenced a report on Off The Ball in which “sources” had claimed that Jack O’Connor had sewn up the gig before the others (Keane and Stephen Stack) had even interviewed.
The fact that many of the concerns and most of the criticism came from clubs associated with Peter Keane or his selectors is worth noting. St Mary’s (Keane and Maurice Fitzgerald’s home club), Listry (where Keane lives), Laune Rangers (from Killorglin, where Keane has his business), Beaufort (a team Keane was previously involved with), and Kilcummin (James Foley’s club) all had their say. That’s not to say that their concerns weren’t genuine or valid, but it does appear to indicate that the old GAA mantra of “looking after our own” was at play, at least to some extent.
More telling was the fact that the vast majority of clubs in the county raised no concerns at all.
Nevertheless, Murphy had to field the questions that were asked and he did so quite well. He stood over everything he and his five-person sub-committee had done and he bristled at the suggestion that there was anything untoward about the process.
“This suggestion about it being a done deal going back three weeks ago or four weeks ago is totally erroneous, totally untrue, totally unfounded,” he said.
“I think it’s disgraceful. It’s the lowest of the low.”
After the chairman had addressed everyone’s concerns, Jack O’Connor was ratified without so much as a peep of dissent from anyone. That probably shows you where most of the clubs really stand on this whole episode.
I, for one, think the County Board have been unfairly criticised over the past few weeks. And readers of this column will know that I wouldn’t be one for praising boards or administrators just for the sake of an easy life.
The interview process was a smart way to go because there were doubts about Keane and there were no obvious alternatives. Firstly, it gave Keane the opportunity to present his case and maybe offer up some solutions. It has been reported in the media that if Keane was to stay on, the players would have liked to have seen a fresh face or two in the backroom team. Maybe if Keane had indicated that he was open to freshening up that side of things, the sub-committee would have viewed his application more favourably.
Secondly, the process allowed O’Connor and Stack to present their own cases and make an impression on the board. Evidently, O’Connor made the best presentation. Is it possible that he was the preferred candidate from the start? Absolutely, but there will be favourites for every role. It doesn’t mean that the others had no chance of overtaking him.
If Keane didn’t end up getting the job, it was always going to get a bit messy, but that’s life. And that’s Kerry football. As Murphy suggested, the circus was created by other parties – predominantly the media and the fans. The board remained tight-lipped throughout.
Not thanking Peter Keane ahead of O’Connor’s ratification irked many observers (Murphy did so after O’Connor was officially appointed) and maybe that could have happened a bit earlier.
Having said that, the board were roundly criticised for not thanking Keane when announcing that the process for finding the “next” Kerry manager had begun. How could they thank him then when he was still in the running? Even after it was announced that the sub-committee would be nominating O’Connor, what if there was uproar at the county board meeting and the Dromid man wasn’t ratified?
Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No.
For his part, Keane didn’t help matters with his statement claiming that “all the players” were behind him - that muddied the waters for sure. It was a crazy thing to say. No manager in the world has that kind of support, and Keane absolutely did not.
All in all, Murphy came out of the meeting largely unscathed. His five years are up in December. He will be hoping that this was the last controversy of his tenure.
Big weekend ahead in Kerry Club Championships
A tantalising 48 hours of club football lies ahead with key semi-finals or finals taking place at every grade of the Kerry Club Championship.
There are several exciting fixtures taking place across the county but the keenly anticipated senior final between Kenmare Shamrocks and Austin Stacks is surely the headliner.
Both finalists looked impressive throughout the group phase with Stacks in particular showing their strength by claiming victory in all three of their games. Legion, Rahilly’s and Dingle all fell to the men from Connolly Park and three late goals propelled them past Templenoe in the semi-final. That last four encounter was not of the highest calibre (the scoreline at half-time read Stacks 0-4 Templenoe 0-2), but the Tralee club came good in the second period to secure their progression to the finale.
Kenmare, meanwhile, topped a pool containing Dr Crokes, Spa and Templenoe and yet another Seán O’Shea winner sealed a one-point victory over Dingle in the semi-final. Remarkably, O’Shea has now scored a late winner in four of Shamrocks’ last six Club Championship victories across this and last season.
The fact that Kenmare and Stacks also met in the 2020 decider adds a significant amount of spice to Sunday’s clash. Stacks won last year’s game after extra time, and they are likely to be slight favourites this time around, but Kenmare will fancy their chances of causing an upset. If they manage to get over the line it will cap an incredible 10-year period for the club during which time they have also won the Junior Club Championship (2012) and the Intermediate Club Championship (2016).
Things are taking shape in the intermediate too as 16 clubs have now become four. Rathmore, who lost their senior status in 2019 after 20 years at the top table, are one step closer to promotion following a solid win over neighbours Glenflesk. Mark Reen (1-6, 5f), Chrissy Spiers (0-4, 2f) and Paul Murphy (0-3) accounted for the bulk of Rathmore’s scores as they ran out 1-18 to 1-11 winners. Aidan O’Mahony once again lined out in the full forward line and he chipped in with a point from play.
Rathmore’s opponents in the semis will be beaten 2020 finalists Beaufort after they inflicted a heavy defeat upon Kilcummin in Kilcummin. Liam Carey kicked 1-8 and Kieran Dennehy added 1-3 for the Mid Kerry side as they romped to a 2-21 to 0-10 victory. Coming so close to promotion just a matter of weeks ago before falling short (the 2020 edition didn’t finish until September) apparently hasn’t knocked Beaufort too far off their stride.
The other semi-final will see Na Gaeil take on Castleisland Desmonds after they accounted for Ballydonoghue and An Ghaeltacht in their respective last eight ties.
In the Junior Premier, Listry are on the brink of the final following their excellent 1-15 to 2-6 win over local rivals Fossa. The East Kerry club will take on Skellig Rangers on Sunday with Gneeveguilla up against St Michael’s-Foilmore in the other semi-final.
At Junior level, Firies will be hoping to move one step closer to promotion when they take on Reenard in Killorglin on Saturday. The winners will face either Cordal or Castlegregory in the final.
In the Novice Club Championship, Sneem/Derrynane play Ballylongford with Cromane up against either Asdee or Moyvane.
Senior Club Championship Final
Sun 3pm – Austin Stacks v Kenmare Shamrocks (Fitzgerald Stadium)
Intermediate Club Championship Semi-Finals
Sat 7pm – Na Gaeil v Castleisland Desmonds (Austin Stack Park)
Sun 1pm – Beaufort v Rathmore (Fitzgerald Stadium)
Intermediate Club Relegation Semi-Finals
Sat 4pm – John Mitchels v Currow (Castleisland)
Sat 4pm – Ardfert v Laune Rangers (Ballymac)
Junior Premier Club Championship Semi-Finals
Sat 4pm – Gneeveguilla v St Michael’s-Foilmore (Beaufort)
Sun 2.30pm – Listry v Skellig Rangers (Glenbeigh)
Junior Premier Club Relegation Playoff
Sat at 4pm – Finuge v St Pat’s Blennerville (Mountcoal)
Junior Club Championship Semi-Finals
Sat 4pm – Reenard v Firies (Austin Stack Park)
Sun 2.30pm – Cordal v Castlegregory (Strand Road)
Novice Club Championship Quarter-Final
Sun 2.30pm – Asdee v Moyvane (Asdee)
Novice Football Championship Semi-Final
Sat 4pm – Sneem/Derrynane v Ballylongford (Cromane)
Meanwhile, the times and venues for Round 1 of the County Championship have been confirmed. In one of the ties of the round, Killarney rivals Legion and Spa will face off in the Fitzgerald Stadium on Saturday, October 30 at 3pm. Later that evening at 7pm, defending champions East Kerry will take on Austin Stacks in Austin Stack Park.
Dr Crokes will get their championship underway against West Kerry the following day at 3pm. That match will form part of a double-header in Stack Park with Dingle and Mid Kerry squaring off at 5pm.
Lakers and Cougars take positives from defeats
Killarney’s two Men’s National League teams suffered opening round defeats last weekend but both sides can take plenty of positives from their first outings of the 2021/22 season.
The Scotts Lakers had a tricky first day at the office as they travelled to Limerick to take on the Celtics. Thanks in part to the offensive prowess of newcomers Emilian Grudov, Rui Saravia and Ben Miller and the defensive efforts of local lads Mark O’Shea and Paul Clarke, the visitors appeared to be in control of proceedings heading into the fourth quarter. Jarlath Lee’s team led by 86 points to 79 and a valuable road win was on the cards.
Credit to the hosts, however, who put together a remarkable 18-0 run to completely turn the game on its head. With Andre Wolford (who finished with 51 points) to the fore, the Celtics seized control and although the Lakers fought back admirably, they just about came up short. The final score at Munchin’s College was Limerick Celtics 111-104 Scotts Lakers.
Encouragingly, the Lakers’ imports all made an impression on the scoring charts with Grudov (31 points), Miller (30) and Saravia (12) combining for 70% of the team’s points total. Youngster Jamie O’Sullivan also made his mark by chipping in with an impressive tally of 18.
Next up for the Lakers is another away match, this time in Cork against Fr Mathews. Tip-off on Saturday is at 7.30pm.
In cup news, the Lakers have been drawn to play the Portlaoise Panthers at home over the October Bank Holiday weekend (October 23/24). This will be the team’s first home game of the season.
Lakers fans can now buy their season tickets with a ‘single’ costing €50. A ‘patron’ option (two adults) is available for €100, which includes a mention in the gameday programmes. The ‘family’ season ticket (two adults and two under 16s) is €120. This entitles fans to entry to every home league and cup game. Visit the St Paul’s Killarney Facebook page for details on how you can get your hands on these tickets through Eventbrite. Alternatively, you can contact any club officer.
In what was their first ever game in the National League, newcomers Killarney Cougars came up against a strong UCC Demons outfit in the Pres Gym. The Cougars started well and threes by Conor Flynn and Con O’Mahony contributed to an early 14-11 lead. The Demons have been tipped as title contenders, however, and they showed their considerable class thereafter, with Tala Fam Thiam in particular standing out.
The away team led by 45-30 at the half but a strong third quarter which included threes by Flynn, Justin Tuason and Mark O’Shea helped cut the deficit to just five.
But Demons regrouped and reassumed control thereafter, eventually running out 87-59 winners.
Next weekend the Cougars travel to Limerick to tackle the UL Eagles with a home game against the Portlaoise Panthers on October 23.
Team Garvey’s St Mary’s (Castleisland) were no match for hosts Glanmire when the sides met in the first round of the Women’s Super League on Friday last. It was always expected to be a tough challenge for the visitors considering Glanmire’s many years of experience at this level and the Cork women had a huge first quarter, hitting 28 points to Team Garvey’s 13.
Team Garvey’s Le’Jzea Davidson sustained an ankle injury in the early part of the game but to her credit managed to keep going. However, she went over on the same ankle in the dying stages. Glanmire continued to excel as the game progressed leaving the final score at 112-41 in favour of the Cork team. Killarney native Rheanne O’Shea chipped in with six points for St Mary’s.
The Kerry team’s next game is on Saturday against Fr Mathews. Tip-off in Castleisland Community Centre is at 6.30pm.
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