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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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‘Golf is open to everyone’ – Doherty enjoying success on disabled golf tour

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by Adam Moynihan

Former mayor of Killarney Tom Doherty says awareness around disabilities is “springing forward” as sporting bodies, businesses and communities strive to become more inclusive.

Doherty, who suffered a spinal injury when he was 15 and now walks with the assistance of a cane, is witnessing this trend first-hand as a member of Ireland’s flourishing disabled golf scene.

The Killarney native recently took part in the Disabled and Inclusive Golf Association of Ireland outing at Slieve Russell Golf Club in Cavan before flying out to England for a European Disability Golf Association tour event at Stoneleigh Deer Park Golf Club. Doherty claimed first place in the stableford category at the Royal Leamington venue.

He is now looking forward to the inaugural Irish Open for golfers with a disability, which will take place in Roganstown Country Club in Dublin at the beginning of July.

“Golf Ireland are doing a lot of work behind the scenes for inclusivity, which is great,” Doherty told the Killarney Advertiser. “They’re putting a lot of time into it.

“Clubs are opening up and people are getting more educated about disabilities and access. If you can help someone to overcome whatever barriers they have, golf is open to everyone.”

Golfers with visual impairment, cerebral palsy, spinal injuries and those who are amputees all compete on the Irish circuit.

“There’s specialised equipment out there,” Doherty explains. “A person who is a full-time wheelchair user can get a specially designed ‘Paragolfer’ machine that is fully adaptable, and that can carry them around specifically on a golf course. It will raise the golfer, according to the level of their disability, to take their shot, and away they go.

“There are special rules for golfers with certain disabilities – for example if a bunker is a certain size and their buggy is too big for it, they’ll get a drop. Still under penalty. A bad shot is still a bad shot!”

The former town councillor, who now works with the HSE, has been a disabilities advocate for many years and he has noticed a major cultural shift in recent times in particular.

“It’s great to see awareness and opportunities and education really springing forward now. It’s very exciting.

“It has been happening for a number of years but now it’s really blossoming.”

Visibility is a big part of this, Doherty insists, and local Paralympian Jordan Lee from the Killarney Valley club has been an important figure in this regard.

“I was actually competing the same day Jordan did his first official high jump (Doherty has represented Ireland in the discus, javelin and shot putt – he has also played basketball with the Kingdom Wheel Blasters and the Limerick Celtics).

“Jordan has turned into a big hero for kids, and a big brand name and an ambassador. At the end of the day, 17% of people have a disability. It’s a specific market but it’s a lot of people, and I think brands and industry are realising this more and more. And a lot of larger companies are becoming more connected to the community, which is a great thing.

“The kids look up to Jordan and, when it comes down to it, he’s another Irish athlete who gives it his all.

“Take the ‘dis’ out of ‘disability’ and you have ‘ability’. At first, young people might look at Jordan and say, ‘look, daddy, he’s got one arm’. But then eventually they go, ‘that’s Jordan the athlete, look how high he can jump’.

“Visibility is a huge thing. That’s the name of the game.”

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Lough Lein anglers enjoy annual charity day 

It’s always a popular event, and Sunday was no different for the members of the Lough Lein Anglers Association. The Killarney club, one of the longest established fishing clubs in Ireland, […]

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It’s always a popular event, and Sunday was no different for the members of the Lough Lein Anglers Association.

The Killarney club, one of the longest established fishing clubs in Ireland, held their 34th annual charity open fly fishing competition known simply as ‘The Charity’.

It’s part of the angling tradition in the club and is always the most popular event on the fly fishing calendar in Ireland.

Spearheaded by Timo O’Sullivan, to date the anglers have raised in excess of €229,000 for deserving charities in Kerry and Cork. The main sponsor of the event is Lee Strand Co-op, Tralee.

This year’s deserving beneficiaries are the Kerry Hospice Foundation and The Saoirse Foundation – BUMBLEance.

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