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It’s the dreaded ‘Year 3’ that Keane needs to worry about

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Peter Keane is facing a revolt. That’s the latest from my ever-reliable, ever-anonymous source on WhatsApp. He didn’t let me down when he told me that the army were about to roll through the streets of Killarney in armoured tanks to enforce the lockdown, so why should I doubt him now?

In the real world, current and former players have confirmed, in no uncertain terms, that the rumours of an uprising are false.

Peter Keane is probably fielding some tough questions at the moment, though, both from below and from above. The nature of the Cork defeat means that everything must be on the table for discussion, and the players and the county board wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they weren’t searching for solutions.

But realistically Keane’s job was never truly in danger this year. For all the talk of how ruthless and how demanding we are down here, you’d swear we get through managers like Real Madrid, and that Florentino Pérez, not Tim Murphy, was the chairman of the Kerry County Board.

The fact of the matter is that Kerry don’t really sack managers, and the history books back that up.

WALKING AWAY

If we work backwards starting with Keane’s predecessor, Eamonn Fitzmaurice, he resigned in 2018 with two years remaining on his contract. Before that, Jack O’Connor stepped down in 2012 despite having a year to go, Pat O’Shea walked away in 2009 of his own accord, and O’Connor ended his first reign voluntarily after leading Kerry to the All-Ireland in 2006.

Although Fitzmaurice was facing scrutiny following Kerry’s poor showing in the 2018 Super 8s, there is nothing to indicate that the county board were keen on replacing him. They explicitly wanted O’Connor (both times) and O’Shea to stay on.

Things famously got very sour towards the end of Páidí Ó Sé’s tenure, but technically the outspoken bainisteoir was not fired.

While it is true that Ó Sé wanted to stay on for the 2004 season, and it is also true that Kerry GAA didn’t want that to happen, his contract was up at the end of ‘03 anyway. After three years without an All-Ireland and the “roughest type of f***ing animals” comment, which was made during the team holiday in South Africa in January of that year, Ó Sé’s approval rating was low. Kerry GAA decided against offering him a new deal, which is different to sacking him.

A technicality, perhaps, but a point worth noting nevertheless.

UNLUCKY NO. 3

Incidentally, as Páidí found out, ‘three’ is a bit of cursed number for Kerry managers in general.

If an All-Ireland isn’t secured by the end of year three, the writing is invariably on the wall.

Not even the great Micko was immune to it. After three below-par years without winning football’s biggest prize (1987-89), he resigned.

Mickey Ned O’Sullivan took over from O’Dwyer for the 1990 campaign and after a disappointing three-year period, which culminated in the shock defeat to Clare in 1992, he called it a day. Another O’Dwyer protégé, Ogie Moran, got the job in 1993 and he also lasted three years before stepping aside, allowing his former teammate Páidí Ó Sé to take over for 1996.

Páidí secured his first All-Ireland as manager in 1997 (his second year) and his second in 2000 (three years later). As soon as he went three straight years without securing the Holy Grail (2001-2003), he was gone.

Each of the next three managers brought Sam home at the first attempt (O’Connor in 2004 and 2009, and O’Shea in 2007), but when O’Connor went three years without an All-Ireland (2010-2012), he resigned.

His successor, Eamonn Fitzmaurice, won his first All-Ireland in 2014 (his second year) and then did what no other Kerry manager had done in half a century. After going three years without an All-Ireland (2015-2017), he stayed on for another crack of the whip in 2018. That was supposed to be the last year of his contract but he secured a two-year extension before his final year had even begun. This new deal would have kept Fitzmaurice in charge right up to the end of the current season.

He made it past the three-year mark alright but there was tension in the air throughout that fourth one. The Finuge man quit at the end of 2018, saying that he had become a "lightning rod" for "negativity and criticism".

So, what does this all mean for Peter Keane? Well, as disappointingly as 2020 turned out, his head was never really on the chopping block. But history suggests that in this part of the world, it's do or die in Year 3.

If another 12 months pass by without Sam Maguire making his long-awaited return, that salacious WhatsApp gossip about job security could enter the realm of reality.

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Fleming and Doherty top Killarney crew at Boggeragh

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The Boggeragh Rallysprint, organised by Cork Motor Club and based in the forest complex of the same name, took place over the Christmas break.

Based near the village of Nad, the event attracted a strong 60-plus car entry and was won by West Cork driver David Guest and his Millstreet co-driver Liam Moynihan in a Ford Fiesta Rally 2. The latter is a member of Killarney and District Motor Club.

The first all-Killarney crew to make the finish were David Fleming and Kieran Doherty in their Honda Civic. The Killarney-based crew finished 20th overall on what was only their second time competing on a gravel rally.

World Rally Championship launch

The new Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid that Craig Breen and Paul Nagle will drive in this year’s World Rally Championship is set to be unveiled on Saturday in Austria.

The World Rally Championship will undergo major environmental changes this year when new technical regulations drive the series towards a more sustainable future.

The season launch takes place at Red Bull’s headquarters near Salzburg ahead of the first round of the WRC, next week’s Rallye Monte Carlo, as a new era for the sport dawns.

Breen and Nagle will be in attendance and the launch will be live streamed on WRC.com

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Killarney Valley athletes rubbing shoulders with the best

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Killarney Valley AC continued their upward curve last Sunday when they entered men’s and women’s teams in the prestigious National Indoor Track and Field Championships, which were held in Abbotstown in Dublin.

Despite going up against the best of the best in terms of Irish athletics, the Killarney Valley contingent gave a good account of themselves at the state-of-the-art National Indoor Arena, with coaches Tomás Griffin and Con Lynch coming away with plenty of positives to reflect upon.

The women’s team was comprised of Sarah Leahy, Ciara Kennelly, Alison Butler, Grace O’Meara, Ellen Moloney and Melissa Ahern, while the men’s team included Conor Gammell, Oisín Lynch, Kevin O’Callaghan, Sam Griffin, Jason O’Reilly, Dara Looney and Darragh O’Leary.

The nature of the team event presents a number of challenges and opportunities for the forward-thinking club, as coach Tomás Griffin explained to the Killarney Advertiser this week.

“The indoor league is senior elite level so you’re competing against really strong athletes, including some Olympians,” Griffin said. “Part of the criteria is that you try to cover as many of the events as you possibly can within all of the athletic disciplines. You compete as a team, as opposed to normal athletics competitions which are very much based on the individual.

“If you are 16 or you turn 16 in the year of competition, you can participate. That allows us to give our up-and-coming athletes the opportunity to compete as part of a representative team alongside our more established, older athletes.

“There are two rounds with half the events in all disciplines covered in Round 1 and the other half in Round 2. Last week in Round 1 the track events were the 50m sprint, the 200m sprint, and the 800m, along with the 4 x 400m relay. So, for those events alone, you have to have sprinters and you have to have middle distance athletes all stepping up to compete against one representative from all the other clubs.

“The field events were the shot putt, the long jump, and the pole vault. You can see there you’ve got to have a pretty diverse club that is trying to focus on as many disciplines as possible on the development sides of things.”

POINTS

Individual athletes earn points based on where they finish in their event (12 points for first etc.), with points tallied together to make up the team’s overall total. There are 12 clubs vying for the women’s title and 13 fighting for the men’s. After Round 2, which takes place on January 23 in Athlone, the top six clubs will advance to the finals.

The demands that such a competition place on a club mean that it is a major achievement to be able to take part at all. Apart from Killarney Valley, Leevale AC from Cork were the only other club in Munster who fielded a team.

“For us to have enough athletes of that age or above, that are competent enough in their disciplines to be able to represent us and compete – and score – is a significant breakthrough. We scored quite well across some of the events. There were some events that we struggled to cover because we’re still trying to develop the full range, but as a club we know that we need to develop those disciplines.

“And we have some younger athletes who are 13 or 14 and they’re now learning pole vault, for instance. If we can maintain the momentum then we will have pole vaulters in a couple of years’ time.”

ENJOYMENT

Griffin says the Killarney Valley competitors really enjoyed the experience, while also putting in some impressive performances.

“They loved it. The bigger powerhouse clubs have very high-profile athletes at their disposal; there were four Olympians whom our athletes got to compete against and interact with.

“Our own Sarah Leahy did exceptionally well in the 60m sprint. She ran the joint fastest time in the league, a personal best of 7.61 seconds, which is the fastest she has ever run 60m indoors.

“In the men’s 60m sprint, Conor Gammell made the top five and ran a personal best. We also had Sam Griffin, who is normally a long jumper, who ran a personal best of 7.58 seconds. He finished third in his race. Dara Looney, another long jumper who was doubling up on sprints, finished fifth and also had a personal best.

“Melissa Ahern, an up-and coming sprinter, ran 8.43 seconds, and Ellen Moloney, who was a first-timer at this level, ran a personal best as well. We have a good batch of sprinters competing and it’s good to expose them to this level.

“Alison Butler scored some valuable points for us in the 800m, and in the men’s 800 Oisín Lynch ran a massive personal best. Our shot putt thrower Kevin O’Callaghan is new to athletics; he had to throw an adult shot (7.2kg) for the first time and he did well, scoring five points for us. In fact, he threw the heavier weight nearly as far as he had been throwing the lighter weight.”

Griffin was keen to stress the importance of each individual team member to the overall group effort and whatever happens in Round 2, he is convinced that entering the competition will have huge benefits in the long run.

“We set ourselves of goal of having a team at National League level by 2023 so we’re a year ahead in that regard. It shows that we’re on the right trajectory.”

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