Cork and Kerry to meet in floodlit repeat

TWELVE months ago, in Páirc Uí Rinn, Kerry were participants in the first floodlit game in the Allianz National Football League against Cork.

Now, it’s their turn to make history in Austin Stack Park tomorrow night, against the same opposition.

It will be the Kingdom’s first home match in the League against their rivals in seven years. The last one was also played in Tralee.

Installation of the floodlight system was completed at the end of 2002, at a cost of €300,000. More recently, lighting was installed in the areas surrounding the terraces in preparation for this weekend’s game.

No serious competitive games have been played at the venue under lights, other than a few challenge games, a number of club games and a Munster inter-firm decider. The Kerry teams have also trained there and the facilities are being used by An Ghaeltacht, in preparation for their AIB All-Ireland club semi-final against St Brigid’s in Semple Stadium on February 22.

With the playing surface further improved following remedial work carried out last year, Kerry County Board is confident they can utilise the lights more fully, for club and inter -county fixtures.

The ground capacity is estimated around the 14,000 mark and includes seating for 3,500 in the stand (2,500 covered) and up to 700 in front of the pavilion.

“We were delighted to go to Cork last year,’’ said Secretary Eamonn O’Sullivan, “and it gave us a break.

“But, the bottom line is that there is no major advantage to playing under lights at this time of year because it’s the time you are playing club matches.

“You don’t free up a Sunday for club games.

“It would be the same thing to be playing the game in Killarney on Sunday to be honest.’’

At present, there are no plans to play any further League games at night.

There were hopes that Fermanagh would play under the lights - and the Games Administration were in favour of the idea - but they didn’t agree.

Longer-term, Eamonn O’Sullivan envisages that the lights will be used extensively, for their own domestic fixtures - in the senior, intermediate and junior club championships - and for inter-county games that would normally be timed for 6.30. “Such games could be put back to 7.30 without any hassle,’’ he pointed out.

*Since Kerry played Cork in the last round of the 1996-‘97 League in Tralee (winning 0-9 to 0-7), the counties have met only twice in the competition.

Prior to last year at Pairc Uí Rinn (Cork 4-8 to 1-9), they met at the same venue in the first round of the 1999/2000 campaign.

Cork were the reigning League champions and runners-up to Meath in the All-Ireland final and went under by a 12-point margin, 0-19 to 0-7.

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