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Opinion: GAA delegates talking out both sides of their mouths

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by Adam Moynihan

Like a lot of people, I was disheartened by the result of last Saturday’s vote on Plan B. I genuinely believe it would have been fantastic for the game of football. It had its flaws, of course it did, but it would have been so much better than the status quo.

What I found really frustrating about this episode were the inconsistencies in delegates’ arguments against the league championship proposal. Speaker after speaker said they were for change, that change was necessary, before asserting that this change was the wrong change. Well, what is the right change? The change that will suit every single stakeholder?

I truly doubt that such a panacea exists. Should we not focus on improving the situation rather than perfecting it?

HOPES AND DREAMS

For different reasons, I was disappointed with every county that spoke out against the proposal. Take Fermanagh, for example, members of the Ulster bloc who voted against Plan B apparently out of loyalty and attachment to the Ulster Championship. Tiernach Mahon of Fermanagh GAA said that "this motion has the potential to destroy the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of Fermanagh people".

With all due respect to the people of Fermanagh, they haven’t won a single Ulster Championship in 133 years of competition, let alone an All-Ireland. If their hopes, dreams and aspirations have survived up to this point, surely they can survive a different type of championship.

Mayo GAA Chairman Liam Moffatt raised concerns about the sixth-place team in Division 1 not qualifying for the knockout phase while teams from lower divisions potentially would (via a playoff). Mayo are one of the best teams in Gaelic football and they have been over the course of the past 10-15 years. And here they are, worried about finishing sixth?

The fact that the Kerry County Board also flagged this sixth-place issue didn’t sit well with me as a Kerry supporter. What happened to that famous Kerry self-confidence?

In the last five “normal” iterations of the league (2016-2020), the team who finished sixth had a total of seven points or less. Basically, to finish fifth a team needs to win four games out of seven. And in three of the last five seasons, the fifth-place team only won three of their matches. If a team fails to win four or more championship matches in quick succession, they really don't have a right to be talking about an All-Ireland.

BACK SEAT

I have to say I haven’t been too impressed with Kerry’s attitude throughout this process. As the game’s most successful county, we should be leaders. We should be setting an example. Instead, our delegates took a back seat.

First they said they didn’t know how they would be voting, that they were waiting to be swayed by arguments on the day. As many of us predicted, there was nothing noteworthy said on the day that hadn’t been said in public over the past few weeks and months.

Addressing Congress, Tim Murphy urged the GAA to effectively kick the motion down the road. Delay the vote so there could be more discussion on the topic. A ‘no’ vote at this stage would be a “travesty”, he said. “All the work of the committee would go to waste.”

Yet Kerry reportedly proceeded to vote ‘no’ anyway (we don’t know for sure because there is zero transparency in these ballots). And then, immediately after, the Kerry GAA chair told the Irish Examiner that he was “very confident” that a tweaked Proposal B would pass in February.

The bottom line for me is this: Kerry players wanted Plan B. Kerry supporters, from what I can discern, also wanted Plan B. Tim Murphy assured us that the Kerry delegation would vote based on what was right for Kerry football. If “Kerry football” is not the team and the fans, then what is it?

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Opponent gets 10-match ban for using discriminatory language towards Kerry player

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A rival player has been suspended for using discriminatory language in a match against Kerry FC, the League of Ireland has confirmed.

The FAI’s Independent Disciplinary Committee handed Harry Curtis of UCD a 10-match ban for the offence, which took place during the game between the two sides in Mounthawk Park, Tralee last week.

Curtis was sent off in injury time. UCD won the game 2-1.

“An Independent Disciplinary Committee of the FAI has sanctioned UCD AFC player Harry Curtis for using discriminatory language towards a Kerry FC player in the SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division fixture on 10 May 2024,” a League of Ireland statement read.

“The FAI and League of Ireland maintains a strict zero tolerance approach towards any act of discrimination and are committed to ensuring that League of Ireland matches remain a safe and welcoming environment for everyone.

“In accordance with FIFA Regulations and the FAI Disciplinary Regulations, Harry Curits will serve a 10-match suspension. Please note the decision of the Independent Disciplinary Committee may be appealed.”

Kerry FC issued the following statement welcoming the ban: “We condemn discrimination in football and are constantly working to kick it out of the game.

“Mounthawk Park and Kerry FC is a community where everyone is welcome regardless of race, ethnicity, and other diverse backgrounds.

“We would like to thank the Independent Disciplinary Committee in the FAI for their continued efforts and dedication to keeping discrimination out of the game.”

Last week Dundalk goalkeeper George Shelvey was also suspended for 10 games for abusing referee Rob Harvey.

Kerry FC were also involved in two alleged cases of racial abuse last season. In September, they claimed a Longford Town player aimed a “racial remark” at one of their players. The matter was referred to An Garda Síochána.

Earlier in the 2023 season, Kerry released a statement condemning racist online comments that had been made about the black players in their squad.

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TEAM NEWS: Kerry and Monaghan name starting 15s for Killarney showdown

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All-Ireland SFC Group 4

Kerry v Monaghan

Saturday 3pm

Fitzgerald Stadium

Live on GAAGO

Jack O’Connor has rewarded Munster final Man of the Match Tony Brosnan with a spot in Kerry’s starting 15 for Saturday’s All-Ireland group phase opener against Monaghan.

Brosnan kicked three points from play a fortnight ago and he retains his place in a forward division that also includes Dara Moynihan, Paudie Clifford, Seánie O’Shea, David Clifford and the recalled Paul Geaney.

Dingle veteran Geaney starts in place of youngster Cillian Burke, who drops to the bench.

Shane Ryan returns in goal instead of Shane Murphy while the back six and midfield remain unchanged from the seven-point victory in Ennis.

Graham O’Sullivan is a notable absentee from the matchday 26. The Dromid defender’s groin injury was described by O’Connor as “minor” after the Clare game, which O’Sullivan also missed.

Monaghan manager Vinny Corey has also named his side for tomorrow’s Sam Maguire encounter at the Fitzgerald Stadium and he has made five changes from the Farney Army’s last outing (the Ulster preliminary round defeat to Cavan on April 7).

Four of those switches come in attack as Stephen O’Hanlon, Micheál Bannigan, Michael Hammill and Seán Jones replace Garland, Irwin, Loughran and McCarron.

Experienced midfielder Darren Hughes, who was forced off with a knee injury in that match in Clones six weeks ago, is unavailable and is replaced by Micheál McCarville.

Rory Beggan starts in goal after a potential move to the Carolina Panthers in the NFL did not materialise. Talismanic forward Conor McManus will wear the number 15 jersey.

The last time these teams met was in the league at St Tiernach’s Park in February. Kerry prevailed on a scoreline of 3-15 to 1-12.

Tickets for Kerry v Monaghan can be purchased here for €25. Three-match bundles for the entire group stage are also available for €50.

The match will not be televised but it will be streamed on GAAGO.

KERRY TEAM

1. Shane Ryan

2. Paul Murphy

3. Jason Foley

4. Tom O’Sullivan

5. Brian Ó Beaglaoich

6. Tadhg Morley

7. Gavin White

8. Diarmuid O’Connor

9. Joe O’Connor

10. Tony Brosnan

11. Paudie Clifford

12. Dara Moynihan

13. David Clifford

14. Seánie O’Shea

15. Paul Geaney

Subs: Shane Murphy, Cillian Burke, Seán O’Brien, Adrian Spillane, Barry Dan O’Sullivan, Dylan Casey, Stephen O’Brien, Mike Breen, Killian Spillane, Darragh Roche, Armin Heinrich.

MONAGHAN TEAM

1. Rory Beggan

2. Ryan Wylie

3. Kieran Duffy

4. Ryan O’Toole

5. Karl O’Connell

6. Killian Lavelle

7. Conor McCarthy

8. Gary Mohan

9. Micheál McCarville

10. Stephen O’Hanlon

11. Micheál Bannigan

12. Michael Hamill

13. Ciarán McNulty

14. Seán Jones

15. Conor McManus

Subs: Darren McDonnell, Jack McCarron, Stephen Mooney, Dessie Ward, Ryan McAnespie, David Garland, Jason Irwin, Andrew Woods, Barry McBennett, Joel Wilson, Thomas McPhillips.

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