John Sugrue steps down as Kerry U20 football boss

The former Laois senior manager steered his native county to Munster U20 glory back in March but lost to Galway in last month’s All-Ireland U20 semi-final
John Sugrue steps down as Kerry U20 football boss

John Sugrue led Kerry to the Munster U20 title but they lost out ot Galway in the semi-final.  Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

John Sugrue has stepped down as Kerry U20 football manager. 

Sugrue was appointed on a one-year term ahead of the 2020 season and he has informed the Kerry County Board executive that he does not wish to extend his tenure.

The former Laois senior manager steered his native county to Munster U20 glory back in March, with a Covid-hit Kerry side losing to Galway in last month’s All-Ireland U20 semi-final.

At last night’s Kerry County Board meeting, which took place online, not one delegate passed comment on the seniors’ early championship exit.

Kerry chairman Tim Murphy said the executive is in the process of reviewing the season with the Kerry management, but did stress the executive's commitment to providing “every possible resource we can” to Peter Keane's set-up for 2021.

Murphy described the Munster semi-final defeat to Cork as “hugely, hugely disappointing”.

“Wins over Monaghan and Donegal set us up nicely for our encounter against Cork, or so we thought. In terms of preparation, there was no stone left unturned by management and players, all of whom put in a huge amount of work and effort. Unfortunately, circumstances didn't materialise on the day and Cork went on and defeated us with a last-minute goal,” the chairman remarked.

Murphy is hopeful clarity will be forthcoming by early next week with regard to the underage inter-county competitions - minor and U20 - that remain outstanding.

Kerry County Board secretary Peter Twiss told delegates it is the executive’s desire to finish the county intermediate, junior premier, junior, and novice championships across the last two weekends of January and the first weekend of February. All these competitions are at semi-final or final stage.

If a split season is introduced in 2021, Twiss suggested the county league in Kerry will be run off between March and July, with clubs lining out without their county players. County championship would then proceed from August to October.

Elsewhere, Kerry hurling manager Fintan O’Connor has called on Croke Park to do more to help develop the game in Joe McDonagh Cup counties.

The Kerry hurlers booked their place in the final of the second-tier championship over the weekend and will earn promotion to the Leinster championship if they come out on top in the December 13 final at Croke Park.

Direct promotion to hurling’s top-tier as reward for winning the Joe McDonagh Cup was not on offer to Kerry in recent years and O’Connor wants the Covid-enforced rule change to remain in place beyond 2020.

When the Joe McDonagh Cup was brought into existence ahead of the 2018 season, it was put in rule that Kerry - were they to win the competition - would have to negotiate a promotion/relegation playoff against the bottom placed team in the Munster round-robin to achieve top-tier involvement. The same condition did not apply to Leinster counties competing in the Joe McDonagh Cup or Antrim.

"If they are good enough to win the Joe McDonagh, I think they should be treated like everyone else. I have said that all along. I don't think there should be a different set of rules for one team in a competition, that is not fair,” said O’Connor.

“If they are putting the Joe McDonagh winner in Leinster, then let every Joe McDonagh winner into Leinster. A uniform rule is better than having a rule that is applied to everyone bar one. I'm not a fan of that.” 

The Kingdom boss added: “Croke Park need to do more for counties like Kerry to try and develop the game and try and promote the game.” On the injury front, Kerry goalkeeper Martin Stackpoole has been ruled out of the December 13 final owing to the broken wrist he sustained early on in Saturday’s victory over Carlow.

“Heartbreaking for Martin and heartbreaking for everyone. He had a fairly bad break of his wrist. He had to get surgery on Sunday and they kept him overnight. Martin has a cast going up over his elbow, so he is snookered for the next couple of weeks. Really disappointing for him,” remarked the manager.

Full-back Bryan Murphy, who missed the Carlow win because of a hand injury picked up the weekend previous, is hopeful of being involved in next month’s decider. Corner-back John Buckley strained his hamstring against Carlow and will undergo a scan today to determine the extent of the injury.

“Once he gets his scan, we'll know more. I am hoping John should be okay,” O’Connor finished.

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