Kerry GAA secretary hits out at criticism over fixtures pile-up

By John Fogarty

Kerry secretary Peter Twiss has hit out at much of the flak directed at the county board regarding the recent fixture pile-up in the county.

Killarney Legion and South Kerry played out a bad-tempered draw in Killarney in November, resulting in Legion going forward as Kerry's representatives in the Munster club SFC.

In his report to annual convention which takes places in Killarney next Monday, Twiss said much of the criticism failed to take into consideration what is involved in scheduling games.

Officials came in for some harsh words from Dingle among others when Legion went forward as Kerry's representatives in the Munster club SFC despite having drawn with South Kerry in the final before they lost last Sunday week's replay.

Twiss writes: “In relation to our local fixtures, while we have great competition running throughout the year, there is no doubt that the sheer number of games and the dependency on the availability of inter-county players for our championships games can lead to problems. This was highlighted this year when the entire round three of the SFC had to be postponed due to the Kerry-Cork Munster senior football final replay.

“While all Kerry followers jumped for joy as Fionn Fitzgerald snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat, the consequence from a fixtures point of view only emerged after the All-Ireland final when the CCC (Competitions Control Committee) were left with the unenviable task of trying to complete the games programme in time for Munster club championships and to give district boards an opportunity to complete their championships before Christmas.

The Munster SFC final being replay was a major cause of the fixture congestion.

"By and large, this challenge was met and my thanks to the members of the CCC, to the clubs and the players for their co-operation.

“In relation to the furore that was raised in the aftermath of the drawn SFC final regarding club fixtures, while welcoming debate and constructive criticism, I felt a lot of the comment was lacking in balance and displayed an alarming lack of understanding of the complexities involved in fixture planning.”

With that in mind, Twiss has encouraged clubs to back the player welfare and fixture planning proposals laid out by GAA director general Páraic Duffy, which include removing the U21 All-Ireland SFC.

“I welcome the new initiative by An tUachtarán Aogán Ó Fearghail & Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy in their attempts to once and for all put in place specific initiatives to free up space for club championship activity.

“If people really want something done about club fixtures then they should give these proposals serious consideration and be aware of that old bugbear we all suffer from – fear of change.”

In particular, Twiss supports Duffy’s recommendation to change the minor grade from U18 to U17.

“This will have a very positive impact on our overall fixtures programme, which is to be welcomed and even more importantly from the players and their parents’ viewpoint, more space is created for those players sitting the Leaving Cert exam.”

Twiss also expressed alarm at what’s expected of chairman Patrick O’Sullivan and PRO John O’Leary, two men who have incidentally undergone surgery in recent weeks.

“I would have a concern at the huge workload that now falls on some officerships, particularly that of chairman and PRO. We are very lucky in this county to have two top class people in these

positions, namely Patrick O'Sullivan and John O’Leary. However, I feel going forward the demands being placed on these voluntary positions is becoming almost impossible to satisfy.”

Having raised over €1 million in a fundraising blitz of the US this year for their centre of excellence, Twiss confirmed further efforts will be made Stateside in 2016 with San Francisco being added to the current itinerary of New York, Boston, Chicago as well as London.

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