Kerry District League Secretary John O'Regan says that "personal attacks" and media criticism have made him consider his position as the head of soccer in the county.
O'Regan has come under fire this week amidst allegations that the league broke COVID-19 restrictions by allowing spectators to attend a recent league final, and by charging an admission fee of €5 at the gate.
As was reported by the Killarney Advertiser on Tuesday, O'Regan denies that any restrictions were breached.
The FAI have confirmed that they are investigating attendances at fixtures in Kerry.
Social media posts about the match and the alleged breach prompted an article by Champagne Football authors Paul Rowan and Mark Tighe in The Sunday Times, but O’Regan has insisted that the man who was responsible for making the initial comments, a former FAI Referee Observer, has a “vendetta” against him.
The person in question claimed that 180 people were at the league final, and that supporters paid an entry fee, in a post he shared on the ‘Supporters of Junior Soccer Players’ Facebook page on Tuesday, September 8.
“This man wasn’t even there, from what I can gather. It’s all hearsay with him as far as I’m concerned,” O’Regan said.
“It’s a very, very personal vendetta, just because I was a friend of John Delaney’s.”
Last year O’Regan emerged as one of Delaney’s fiercest allies as he stuck with the embattled CEO in the face of a litany of serious allegations, which ultimately forced Delaney to resign. Last October, after the controversial administrator had been forced out of the Association for good, O’Regan said that he couldn’t see what Delaney had done wrong.
“My association with John Delaney goes back years and years, even before he was ever involved with the FAI. He was a friend of mine. He’s still a friend of mine.
I don’t condone everything he did, alright? All I’m saying is what he did for Kerry. That’s what I’m saying, and I can only judge him by what he did for us.
“He (the person who made the comments) is on that drum the whole time. All I do is ignore whatever he puts up online.
“Himself and the other gentleman say that I’m being kept in my job by the hurling clubs in North Kerry.
“There are eight hurling clubs in North Kerry. That’s all that’s there. That small little pocket.
“The Kenmares and the Dingles and the Mastergeehas and the Asdees, they’re all the people who vote for me. They’re the people I represent.
“When they don’t want me, they’ll tell me.”
O’Regan, who has presided over Kerry soccer for the better part of half a century, has faced stern criticism in recent times, both for supporting Delaney and for other matters relating to league governance.
He says he takes comfort from phone calls he receives from friends and allies whenever something negative is written about him, but, in light of the latest controversy, he admits that the media attention and online comments have taken their toll on him personally.
“I’m there at Mounthawk Park 24/7. I was so exhausted yesterday evening (after the Greyhound Bar KO Cup final, which was won by Killarney Celtic), I went home and went to bed at nine o’clock. I didn’t get up ‘til half nine this morning. And I said to myself, it’d be a lot easier for me to just turn the key on the place and leave it closed down.
"That’s what will happen I’d say shortly because I can’t keep going.
“All I’m trying to do is provide an outlet for people to play football. If this is going to be the result, that I’m being personally attacked…”
He trails off. Does this mean that he has considered stepping down?
“Well, I’ll tell you the honest truth: there are times that I feel like leaving. I’m too long in the game and I wish some other fella would take it over. I’m secretary of the Kerry District League 46 years now. And in all that time, nobody seems to want it. If somebody wants it, I’ve no problem with that.
“I’m getting tired of it anyway, Adam. I’ll tell you the truth boy.”
Crokes hurlers set for senior championship bow
Sunday will be a momentous day for Dr Crokes GAA as the club’s hurlers are set to participate in the Kerry Senior Hurling Championship for the first time.
The Crokes famously won the Intermediate in 2020 and after exercising their right to graduate to the top level, they now face into the daunting task of negotiating the rough and tumble of the top tier.
The Killarney club will take on four-time champions Abbeydorney in their first Group 1 pool game, with throw-in at Austin Stack Park at 1.30pm. O’Dorney are sure to provide a stern test; they reached the last four of last year’s competition before exiting at the hands of eventual winners Kilmoyley.
Two teams from each of the three groups of three will progress to the knockout phase.
Crokes will be hoping that the likes of Kerry senior Michael Lenihan and his brother Jack can lead the way on Sunday, while Kerry U20 footballer and accomplished soccer player Tom Doyle is also considered to be a real talent.
Elsewhere in the Kerry SHC, champions Kilmoyley will get the defence of their title up and running against Ballyheigue tonight at 7.30pm, and last year’s beaten finalists Causeway will do battle with St Brendan’s on Saturday at 7pm.
Neighbours Spa and Crokes vying for Division 1 final
Killarney rivals Spa and Dr Crokes will face off in Round 5 of the Kerry Senior Football League on Saturday with the winners advancing to the Division 1 league final. The match will take place in Lewis Road at 5pm.
Crokes currently lead the way in Division 1A with seven points from four matches, with Spa one point behind having won two, drawn one and lost one of their four fixtures to date. The new competition structure, which was devised to reduce the amount of games and travel required for all teams involved, sees the top team from each pool (1A and 1B) meet in the decider.
In the other pot, Kerin’s O’Rahilly’s are favourites to finish first as they currently sit on top of the pile with seven points. The Killarney Legion are still in contention – they find themselves just one point behind in second – but Rahilly’s will fancy themselves to win their final group phase match against bottom-of-the-table Beaufort. Legion travel back west to play An Ghaeltacht in Gallarus.
Beaufort have already been relegated to Division 2 for 2022 on the back of four consecutive defeats and they will be joined in D2 by the bottom-placed team in Division 1A. Kilcummin currently occupy that position but they can claw their way out of danger with a final day victory over Austin Stacks.
The second-from-bottom team in each pool will also meet in a playoff to decide the third and final team to be relegated to Division 2. These places will go down to the wire with John Mitchels and Stacks in the firing line in 1A and Rathmore, Kenmare Shamrocks and An Ghaeltacht all potential candidates in 1B.
In the second division, Castleisland Desmonds can secure their promotion back to the top table by defeating Na Gaeil in their final fixture, thereby securing top spot in Division 2A. It’s all to play for in 2B as Templenoe, Gneeveguilla and Ballymacelligott are joint top on six points apiece.
The runners-up in both pools will also play each other to decide the third team to be promoted with Glenbeigh-Glencar and St Mary’s in contention in 2A. They will duke it out for that final spot when they meet in Glenbeigh on Saturday; in fact, the winners will secure automatic promotion if Desmonds lose to Na Gaeil in Tralee.
The Dr Crokes B team are currently facing the chop as they sit bottom of 2A on zero points, but they can avoid automatic relegation by beating the team directly above them (Ballydonoghue) away from home on Sunday. Listry can do likewise in 2B if they can get the better of Dromid Pearses in Listry. If Crokes and Listry do the needful, they will meet in a relegation playoff to see who will retain their Division 2 status.
Churchill and Listowel lead the way in Division 3A with Laune Rangers, Milltown/Castlemaine and Brosna in the running in 3B. Glenflesk are safe but the same cannot be said of Currow, who will need to defeat St Senan’s to have any hope of avoiding the drop.
Firies are in pole position in Division 4A with Renard and then Fossa gunning for top spot in 4B. Stacks B and Cordal are in pole position in Divisions 5A and 5B, and it’s all to play for in Division 6 as the B teams of Dingle, Firies, Fossa, Kenmare, Glenflesk and Rathmore, as well as the Dr Crokes C team and Tuosist, are all still in the mix for promotion.
Full fixture list and tables can be found on the Kerry GAA website and across the Kerry GAA social media channels.
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