Former Kerry hurling trainer Tom Howard has cited a lack of commitment by some players as the reason for his sudden departure.
Howard and his management team issued a joint statement to a meeting of the Kerry County Board on Monday night outlining the reasons behind their decision.
Speaking on Radio Kerry yesterday, Howard said he and his management team felt the Kerry team had to “up their game for next year’s league” but added that they “weren’t able to bring enough of the players with us.”
The Clarecastle native added: “We planned a pre-season of training, which isn’t I suppose something that is normally done in Kerry. We felt it was critical for us to achieve our goals.
“We didn’t get the commitment from enough players. Some were willing to do it but not enough were willing to put their shoulder to the wheel at this time of year.”
The Irish Examiner has learned management-player meetings were badly attended in recent weeks, two were held last week, one as recent as last Friday, and the turnout described as ‘poor’.
Howard added: “The management team met six weeks ago and tried to critically review the 2013 season and what we needed to do to improve on our performance in 2014. We met the county board and received a positive response from them on our plans. One of the critical areas we identified was to improve the general fitness of all the players. This would involve six to eight weeks of pre-season training to improve our fitness and body strength. Unfortunately, we have not received the support from a sufficient number of players for this plan and as a result we feel we have no other choice but to step down.”
Howard and his management team (Fergie McLoughlin, also Clarecastle; Kilmoyley’s Pádraig Regan; Noel Browne, Ballyduff, and Michael Burke, Causeway) had just finished their first year with the Kerry hurlers.
The year ended with an agonising defeat in the Christy Ring Cup final, with Down winning via an injury time goal.
Howard’s decision means that Kerry will now have to find their 13th senior hurling manager since 2000. Kerry’s 2014 inter-county hurling year is due to begin on Sunday, January 19, in the Waterford Crystal Cup against LIT or Tipperary in Tralee.
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