Motion to empower Kerry management to select captain fails at board meeting

Kerry County Board have voted to uphold the long-standing tradition of the senior county champions selecting the Kerry football captain.

Motion to empower Kerry management to select captain fails at board meeting

Kerry County Board have voted to uphold the long-standing tradition of the senior county champions selecting the Kerry football captain.

A motion from the Beaufort club proposing that the Kerry senior football and hurling captains, from 2021 onward, be selected by team management failed to secure the necessary two-thirds majority in order to be passed.

The motion won the support of 50 delegates and top-table officials, but with almost as many - 48 - opposed to change, the status quo was maintained and so the county champions will continue to hold the honour of nominating who fills the role of captain.

Kerry is only one of two counties — along with Kilkenny — that persist with this traditional added bonus for their county champion.

Prior to Monday night's vote, county board chairman Tim Murphy revealed that Peter Keane's management team were supportive of breaking from tradition and introducing a new approach to selecting the Kerry captain.

“The current and, indeed, previous management would be in favour of the [Beaufort] motion. They feel they have been entrusted to represent Kerry and win All-Irelands.

"In order to do so, they feel the current system doesn’t necessarily allow them the best chance of doing so,” Murphy told delegates upstairs in the Austin Stack Park pavilion.

“They were at pains to point out that we are all looking at this [motion] through a particular lens. They are at the coalface of the team, from when they start in November right through to August.

"Lots of stuff goes on behind closed doors that nobody has any idea about, stuff that may be going on in the personal lives of players. Management, in their opinion, are best placed to be aware of that.

"Management are dealing with the players on a daily/weekly basis, during training, after training, and outside of training.

"That is the primary reason why the management would feel this motion should proceed. Stuff we are not aware of, the management completely are.

“It is about we having confidence in the people we appoint as managers and management teams.”

Kerry County Board chairman Tim Murphy
Kerry County Board chairman Tim Murphy

A further point made by the Kerry football management to Murphy was that the current system would deprive players from small clubs from rising to captain.

“Natural leaders are identified at a very early stage,” the chairman told delegates.

“[The Kerry football] management would see a number of players from very small clubs who potentially could become great leaders and great captains.

"But under the current system, in their view, they are from districts who over the next 10-15 years are unlikely to be strong enough to win a county championship.

"Under the current system, we are depriving those people, who in the management’s view could be the winning or losing of a match, of captaining Kerry.”

Introducing the motion, Beaufort’s Frank Coffey expressed his view that Kerry, in recent years, had suffered from not having a “clearly appointed leader” captaining the team.

When Dublin won many of their games by fine margins over the past five years, it was no coincidence that they had the same iconic steadfast influencer on the field in Stephen Cluxton, who epitomizes all that a captain should be.

“In the same period, we in Kerry were disadvantaged by the absence on many days of a clearly appointed leader.

"Our system to appoint a captain proved unsatisfactory in 2019 and 2018. I have no doubt that in those games of fine margins, the lack of a strong leader on the pitch cost us dearly.

"The current system is denying management an important part of their preparations of the team for big days. It is not fit for purpose."

Pat McAuliffe of John Mitchels said that “giving responsibility to one person is not democracy”.

Dr Crokes' Matt O’Neill told the meeting that Kerry “had more serious issues" than who selects the captain.

Responding to Coffey’s remark that Dublin benefited from having one captain over a lengthy period, O’Neill said: “Having the same captain for five years in-a-row reduces the chance of small clubs holding the captaincy through one of their players.”

O'Neill added: “This proposal will dilute the club unit in Kerry, will dilute the Kerry county championship. This proposed change is another attempt to centralise decisions of power.

"Is it a case that this question will continue to be asked of clubs until they tip their hat and bow to power. The honour and glory of the club unit must be maintained.

"If this is taken away, what next? Where will it end?”

Fergus Moroney, also of Dr Crokes, claimed this motion had been “media driven”.

Gneeveguilla’s Bill O’Riordan asked why Kerry should “change something that isn’t broken.”

In the end, they didn’t.

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