Kieran O’Leary baffled by GAA plan to ban joint-captains receiving cups

Kieran O’Leary baffled by GAA plan to ban joint-captains receiving cups

Kerry joint-captains Fionn Fitzgerald and Kieran O'Leary lift the Sam Maguire Cup in 2014. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Kerry’s 2014 joint All-Ireland winning captain Kieran O’Leary can’t understand why the GAA are looking to ban co-skippers from lifting trophies.

A motion from Central Council to be voted on at Annual Congress on Saturday reads: “It shall be the privilege of the captain (joint captains are not permitted) of a winning team to accept the trophy on behalf of the team.”

The reasoning behind the proposal remain sketchy; the last joint captains to raise a trophy together at national level were Corofin’s Jason Leonard and Micheál Lundy 13 months ago, when the club claimed the Andy Merrigan Cup for beating Kilcoo in the All-Ireland senior club football final.

Since then, there have been several other instances at club level such as Crosserlough’s Mark and Pierce Smith following their historic Cavan SFC triumph in October, Ballygunner’s Barry Coughlan and Philip Mahony retaining the Waterford SHC title in August, and Derek Fahy and Shane Golden of Sixmilebridge as they claimed the Clare senior hurling championship in September.

Seven years ago, with Colm Cooper missing most of the year with a serious knee problem his Dr Crokes’ club-mates O’Leary and Fionn Fitzgerald raised the Sam Maguire Cup after Kerry beat Donegal to claim their last All-Ireland SFC title.

O’Leary simply doesn’t know why the GAA are kicking up such a fuss about it.

“It’s a difficult one to understand, for sure. Fionn and I got the captaincy because Colm was injured at the time and he would have been the sole captain had he not been.

“It wasn’t really a big deal. I was getting a bit of game-time and said a few words after the cup was presented.

“Overall, it wasn’t a major talking point among people. How the captain comes from the county champions in Kerry has been a big talking point but that’s different.

“Some agree with it and some don’t but it wasn’t an issue among the players.

“It happened with Declan (O’Sullivan) with Colm (in 2006) and it wasn’t a big talking point then but the GAA seem to think otherwise.

“You can see some managers like going with joint captains because they bring different strengths to the thing.”

Joint captains has long been a policy of Davy Fitzgerald and the Wexford senior hurling manager said he will continue appointing two, regardless of the motion becoming a rule.

“I for one will not be changing,” he said earlier this month.

“It’s a typical GAA decision but really they have more important matters to be dealing with.”

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