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Which end is the “scoring end” at the Fitzgerald Stadium?

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The Lewis Road End of the Fitzgerald Stadium.

Every pitch has one, but what makes it “easier” to score into one goal than the other? Adam Moynihan investigates this strange phenomenon.

Your team is down at half-time and struggling. After a quick bout of soul-searching, maybe even some finger-pointing, the manager tells you to settle down as he launches into a season-defining team talk. More of this, less of that, these lads aren’t up to much etc. etc. You bounce on your toes and head back towards the pitch, but there’s still time for one more nugget of encouragement. One line that will render your lacklustre first-half performance meaningless, banish all self-doubt and restore the confidence you need to stage a heroic comeback.

“We’re playing into the scoring end as well, boys.”

On the surface it might seem like a silly thing to say, especially to the uninitiated. The posts are the same width at both sides of the pitch. The crossbars are the same height. It’s the very same patch of grass. But ask any footballer if they have a favourite end to shoot into and the answer will be a resounding ‘yes’.

For some reason players do feel as though they find it easier to score at one end of the ground, and whatever ground you’re at, there tends to be an overwhelming consensus between players (both home and away), officials and supporters as to which end is the “scoring end”. Everyone knows without really knowing why. Can this odd phenomenon be explained logically, or is it pure superstition?

THE PARK

The home of football is probably as good a place as any to start our investigation and the majority of people say that in Killarney’s Fitzgerald Stadium, the Lewis Road end is easier to kick into than the scoreboard end. I reached out to a number of Kerry players past and present and the majority agree that it is tougher to play down into the scoreboard end of the ground.

But why? They say the wind is the primary factor and some amateur meteorology on my part confirms that our prevailing south-westerly breeze would tend to blow from the Torc Terrace corner of the stadium (between the stand and the scoreboard terrace) diagonally across the field to the far corner of the terrace side.

That much makes sense. Now, let’s see if the stats back this up.

In Kerry’s last 10 matches in Killarney dating back to 2017, 181 points (including goals) have been scored into the Lewis Road end - and a total of 202 points have been registered at the scoreboard end.

That means that on average Kerry and their opponents have managed 2.1 points per game less while shooting into the supposed “scoring end”.

If we isolate Kerry’s totals in these matches, we see that the home team have kicked or punched 112 points playing into the “scoring” goal, and 116 points down in front of the scoreboard.

The opposition, meanwhile, have found the scoreboard end far more appealing. They have racked up 86 points at that side of the pitch, while notching just 69 at the Lewis Road end.

However, if we look a little closer, we notice an interesting trend. Points scored over the bar are identical at both ends of the pitch (160), but twice as many goals have been scored at the scoreboard end (14 versus 7). This is, perhaps, where the famous wind comes into play. As it is more difficult to kick points into the breeze blowing down from the scoreboard side, Kerry and their opponents seem to be going for goal more often when playing in this direction. The Kingdom have managed six goals in their last 10 halves of football facing the scoreboard, compared to four going the other way.

Their opponents have fared even better in this department, scoring eight goals into the scoreboard end and just three into the Lewis Road net.

Having said that, both home and away teams are still managing to score the same amount of points playing into the “scoring end” as they are playing into the “bad end”.

So, if this statistical snapshot is anything to go by (which, in fairness, it might not be considering it only covers intercounty matches played at the stadium since 2017) this idea that the Lewis Road end is easier to score into appears to be psychological.

Kerry's last 10 matches at the Fitzgerald Stadium (both teams combined):

Lewis Road End: 7 goals, 140 points (181)

Scoreboard End: 14 goals, 160 points (202)

Kerry's last 10 matches at the Fitzgerald Stadium (Kerry):

Lewis Road End: 4 goals, 100 points (112)

Scoreboard End: 6 goals, 98 points (116)

MINDS

Nevertheless, the fact remains that every ground has its “scoring end”, and without vast swathes of empirical data to debunk the notion, it will continue to play on people’s minds.

A poll carried out on my Instagram (@AdamMoynihan) confirmed that all of the local pitches have commonly defined scoring ends. For Dr Crokes, it’s the town end near Deerpark Pitch & Putt course. One player said that it always seems to be brighter at that side of the pitch, which could be explained by the fact that the opposite end is more sheltered with high embankments on all sides of the ground. Another described the scoreboard end goal as “deceptive”, and I have a theory on this myself.

As a handy free taker (and by that I mean “a taker of handy frees” as opposed to “a handy taker of frees”), I’ve always found it tricky to shoot into goals with open spaces behind them.

At Crokes, the top goal has an open area behind it and I think it’s harder to gauge distance when kicking into this kind of backdrop. With no fixed points immediately behind the target, it can feel like the posts are miles away.

The same can be said of the top goal at my home ground in Derreen, which has a second pitch running directly up behind it. Legion folk will tell you that the scoring end is down towards the car park and I can definitely attest to the fact that, psychologically at least, it feels easier to play that way.

There may be another reason that I personally prefer shooting into that goal, and it could also explain why every home team has a favourite end: familiarity. We almost always warm up at the clubhouse end, training drills are often staged there, and whenever I would go for a kick on my own, I would tend to kick into that goal more often than the top one. I would say that the vast majority of clubs and players are the same.

We are creatures of habit so it stands to reason that the more we train in a certain environment, the more comfortable we are there, and this transfers over to match situations.

For Spa, the goal at the road end is considered to be the easier one to score into, something the natives attribute to an apparent slope in the pitch. Maybe it’s a simple trick of the eye but if there is even a very minor decline, perhaps that could make a slight difference. Once again, backdrop may be a factor: the top goal has a wide open space behind it.

The same can be said for Fossa, who also have another pitch behind their top goal. Players seem to agree that the road end, which has a neat row of trees serving as a backdrop, is the “scoring end”.

Kilcummin’s pitch is a slight anomaly with regards to the backdrop factor. The scoreboard end is thought to be more favourable for forwards, but it is the supposed “bad end” that is more enclosed. However, it might actually be slightly too enclosed. The wall of tall, dark trees immediately behind the goal makes for an imposing structure, which, perhaps, is slightly off-putting for would-be scorers. I always found it tough to kick points up there anyway, although it would probably be unfair to blame that on the conifers.

Maybe it’s the prevailing wind. Maybe it’s familiarity. Maybe it’s the slant of the pitch. Maybe it’s the backdrop. Or maybe it’s all in our heads. Whatever the reason or reasons, scoring ends exist and in the ultra-competitive world of the GAA, their existence will continue to be a source of comfort to desperate teams in desperate times.

We might be down 10 points, but we’re playing into the scoring end this half. Anything is possible.

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Kerry Camogie vow to back players in shorts/skorts controversy

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by Adam Moynihan

The Kerry County Board will back their players if they decide to defy the rulebook and wear shorts after officials at the Camogie Association’s National Congress voted to keep the controversial skort.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, Kerry Camogie chairperson Ann Marie Russell confirmed that she is fully behind the players, the vast majority of whom want the skort to be binned.

“I know there have been calls for a protest, that they would all go out the first weekend of the championship and wear shorts,” Russell said. “If the players felt that was something they wanted to do, Kerry Camogie would absolutely support them.

“It should be up to the people who it affects. It doesn’t matter to me what the players wear or what they look like. They should be comfortable.”

The punishment for not wearing the correct playing gear is a yellow card which can be followed by a red card for dissent if not rectified.

Players say the skirt-like garment is not comfortable and they were hopeful that it would finally become a thing of the past when the issue was raised at Congress in Kildare last weekend.

However, a motion by Tipperary and Kerry to replace it with shorts was defeated by 64% to 36%. A similar proposal by Great Britain and Meath which would have given players the option to choose between skorts and shorts also fell well short of the two-thirds majority required (55% against, 45% in favour).

Voting was carried out by delegates from the various county boards as well as members of central and provincial councils. The majority of voters were female.

As one of Kerry’s two delegates, Russell confirmed that she voted in line with the players’ wishes, but she fears that delegates from some counties didn’t do likewise.

“Our job as delegates is to speak on behalf of the players and I definitely felt as though that wasn’t reflected by some of the other counties. I don’t know any girl in any age group at any level that goes to training in a skort. That, in itself, should speak volumes to the powers that be. Even the counties that wanted to keep the skorts, there’s no way their girls go training in skorts. I know they don’t.

“When camogie first started, women weren’t allowed to wear pants, so they had no choice but to wear skirts. They were longer at the time and things have evolved since then. The design is better. But there is a misconception that there are shorts underneath the skirts so ‘what’s the big deal?’ They’re not shorts, they’re compression shorts. That’s not the same thing.

“And look, I’m not wearing the skorts so it doesn’t matter to me. You have to listen to the players. That’s what I feel.

“We’re making decisions that really have little relevance to us, so we really have to take our players’ opinions into it. I’m not sure how many delegates go back and ask their players about these motions before they vote on them.”

Also speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, Kerry senior player Niamh Leen outlined the specific issues players have with the skort.

“If you went around the country, I guarantee you that you’d only find a handful of girls actually training in a skort,” the Clanmaurice woman said. “I’ve never been to a training session where someone was wearing a skort. We’re all in shorts.

“The practical side of it is that they’re really uncomfortable. They’re constantly rising up and I spend the majority of the match pulling the skort down instead of concentrating on the game. It shouldn’t be that way.”

According to Leen, the discomfort felt by players is not just physical. There is also a psychological discomfort involved.

“I am very paranoid about the skort, especially the length. You spend a lot of time bending over to pick up the ball and I am conscious of it. Even if you size up, it’s still too short. The only way to counteract it is to wear Skins (base layer) underneath which I don’t really like doing because that’s not overly comfortable either.

“It should be a players’ vote at the end of the day. We’re the ones who actually have to wear them and we should be the ones having the say. But, unfortunately, it’s not up to us.

“It’s very, very annoying. I could use harsher words but it is just frustrating, you know? We’ve wanted this motion to be passed for so many years.

“Nobody I know likes playing in a skort and it’s frustrating that our own organisation aren’t taking the players into account.”

This is not the first time a proposal to replace the skort has been rejected and players will have to wait another three years for the next Congress to try to alter the rules on an official basis.

Leen believes that she and her colleagues should not have to wait that long and questions the reasoning of those delegates who voted to keep the status quo.

“Honestly, I think it’s to keep the tradition and to keep us unique, and maybe they see the skorts as being more feminine, which is just mind-boggling for me. I just don’t understand how that could be a reason to keep something that’s making girls uncomfortable.

“I understand that it’s the tradition, but sometimes traditions have to move on.”

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MATCH PREVIEW: Kerry name strong team for league final showdown with Armagh

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by Adam Moynihan

Lidl National League Division 1 Final

Kerry v Armagh

Sunday 3pm

Croke Park

Live on TG4

The Kerry ladies return to Croke Park on Sunday hoping to retain their Division 1 crown and managers Declan Quill and Darragh Long have named a strong-looking line-up for their battle against Armagh.

Kerry mostly used the league for experimenting but they still managed to win five of their seven matches, enough to secure a top two finish.

Now almost all of The Kingdom’s big hitters are back in play, as evidenced by the team they have selected for this weekend’s Division 1 decider at HQ.

Eleven members of the side that lost to Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland final have been selected to start against Armagh. The four “new” starters are goalkeeper Mary Ellen Bolger, full back Deirdre Kearney, midfielder Mary O’Connell and full forward Emma Dineen.

Dineen has rejoined the panel following a spell abroad and has slotted seamlessly into Kerry’s full forward line. She will be flanked by Footballer of the Year Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh and the skilful Hannah O’Donoghue, who scored 1-2 against Galway a fortnight ago.

The only really notable absentee – apart from veterans like Emma Costello and Louise Galvin who haven’t yet featured for the team in 2024 – is Síofra O’Shea. The dynamic attacker, who heroically came off the bench in last year’s All-Ireland despite damaging her ACL in the lead-up to the game, is still rehabbing that serious injury.

Meanwhile, the return of All-Star defender Cáit Lynch bolsters Kerry’s back six. The Castleisland Desmonds woman has been used sparingly so far this year and she came on at half-time in that final regulation league game versus Galway.

Quill and Long are likely to call on substitutes Amy Harrington and Danielle O’Leary to make an impact if and when required.

Kerry’s sole loss in the league came at the hands of their final opponents, Armagh, who are looking to emulate what The Kingdom achieved last season by winning Division 1 at the first attempt after gaining promotion from Division 2 the previous season.

The Orchard County beat Kerry by 3-14 to 1-13 at the Athletic Grounds just over a month ago.

They flew through the regular phase of the 2024 competition, winning six games in a row before losing to Dublin in Round 7 with many key players being rested.

Star forward Aimee Mackin has been in blistering form. She has racked up 6-21 (4-15 from play) to date, including 2-6 (1-6 from play) in that meeting between the eventual finalists in March.

Armagh had not yet named their team for the final as this article was being published.

This match forms part of a double header with the Division 2 final between Kildare and Tyrone (1pm). Both games will be televised live on TG4.

Kerry team to play Armagh:

1. Mary Ellen Bolger (Southern Gaels)

2. Cáit Lynch (Castleisland Desmonds)

3. Deirdre Kearney (Na Gaeil)

4. Eilís Lynch (Castleisland Desmonds)

5. Aishling O’Connell (Scartaglin)

6. Ciara Murphy (MKL Gaels)

7. Kayleigh Cronin (Dr Crokes)

8. Mary O’Connell (Na Gaeil)

9. Anna Galvin (Southern Gaels)

10. Niamh Carmody (Captain – Finuge/St Senan’s)

11. Niamh Ní Chonchúir (Corca Dhuibhne)

12. Lorraine Scanlon (Castleisland Desmonds)

13. Hannah O’Donoghue (Beaufort)

14. Emma Dineen (Glenflesk)

15. Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh (Corca Dhuibhne)

Subs: Ciara Butler, Danielle O’Leary, Amy Harrington, Ciara McCarthy, Ciara O’Brien, Katie Brosnan, Aoife Dillane, Bríd O’Connor, Kate O’Sullivan, Eilís O’Connor, Fay O’Donoghue, Jess Gill, Róisín Smith, Siobhán Burns, Keri-Ann Hanrahan.

Follow Adam on Twitter/X for all the latest updates from the Ladies Division 1 final at Croke Park

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