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Adam Moynihan: Some of the criticism aimed at the county board has been unfair

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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.

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Glorious weather for Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships

It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough […]

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It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough Bay on Lough Lein.

Hundreds flocked to the Valley shore to see the coastal clubs of Kerry race in crews from Under 12 to Masters. As well as clubs from around the Ring of Kerry, there was a strong representation from the Killarney clubs with the Workmen, Commercials and Fossa wearing their colours with pride. The atmosphere, colour, fun and fierce competition produced a spectacular day that will live long in the memory.

The event was opened by the Councillor John O’Donoghue, vice chair of the Killarney Municipal District who congratulated Flesk Valley on their centenary, which occurred during 1920, and wished all of the clubs a successful day’s racing.

The first race was preceded by a special blessing of the boats by Fr Eugene McGillycuddy, who also remembered Brendan Teahan of Cromane Rowing Club in his prayers.

Afterwards John Fleming, chair of Flesk Valley, expressed his immense pride and satisfaction with the success of the regatta.

“It’s our first time ever hosting a regatta, but we wanted to do something special to mark our 102 years in existence,” he said.

“It was a lot of work, but we have a fantastic hard-working committee in Flesk Valley who really pulled out all the stops to make it happen, and we received fantastic support from our members, parents, other clubs and local businesses.”

John also thanked the Kerry Coastal Rowing Association, in particular Mary B Teahan and Andrew Wharton, and the staff of the Killarney National Park for all their support and encouragement in hosting this event.

This was a qualifying event and the Kerry clubs will be heading to Wexford next weekend to complete for honours at the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships.

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Live referee mics should be the norm – swearing concerns be damned

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by Adam Moynihan

I was disappointed to learn that the GAA are preventing TG4 from using their live referee mic in this Sunday’s Wexford hurling final.

(And not just because I had already written an article saying how great live referee mics are and how they are sure to be implemented across the board. Ctrl + A. Delete.)

TG4’s GAA coverage is superb and they raised the bar once again when they mic’d up referee John O’Halloran for the Kerry hurling final between Causeway and Ballyduff.

Pinning a microphone on the referee is standard practice in televised rugby and judging by the positive response to Gaelic games’ first foray into this territory, I was expecting it to become the norm.

It still might but, explaining their decision to The 42, the GAA said that they were not aware beforehand of the ref mic being trialled in Stack Park on Sunday.

“They believe such a development will require more discussion and education if it is to be implemented on a more regular basis in live TV coverage and could possibly need a policy change,” Fintan O’Toole reported.

The image of the Association is surely the primary concern here.

Players and managers – usually the worst behaved participants when it comes to things like swearing – will be among those who get “educated” on the subject. Some verbal abuse that might otherwise be muted for television viewers will, in all likelihood, be picked up by the referee’s microphone. You would imagine that the teams involved will be reminded of this the week of a televised game.

It also makes sense from Croke Park’s point of view to speak to referees and give them guidance on how to conduct themselves when the mic is on.

In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if senior GAA figures are currently fretting over the possibility of an agitated ref making headlines for something they say in the heat of the moment. And make no mistake about it, some match officials can eff and jeff with the best of them.

A friend of mine (a Wexford man, funnily enough) recalls an incident when a teammate was unceremoniously taken out of it by an opponent.

“Ah ref, for f***’s sake!” the victim complained.

“I gave you the f***ing free,” the referee replied. “What do you want me to do, slap him in the face with a wet fish?!”

The GAA might think that a referee swearing like that would leave all of us red-faced. In reality the clip would be a viral sensation and the general public would probably call for the official in question to run for Áras an Uachtárain. (He’d get my ****ing vote.)

The odd swear word from someone involved is bound to sneak through every now and then but you’d hear the same – and plenty more – at any match you attend from Cahersiveen to County Antrim.

Implementing the referee mic on a wider scale is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t appear to take a huge amount of effort or expense for the broadcaster to set it up and, more importantly, it offers a wonderful insight into the unknown.

Listening to referees explain their decisions in real time will clear a lot of things up for commentators, analysts and the media. We will no longer have to speculate about what they did or did not see, or what specific rule is being cited, or why.

Viewers, especially those who might be casual followers of the sport, will appreciate it too and become more educated; I know that’s how I feel when I watch rugby, for example.

It just leads to greater transparency and understanding.

Well done to TG4 and the Kerry County Board for being the pioneers. I’m sure others will follow their lead – as soon as the GAA allow them to do so.

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