Former Kilkenny footballer Michael Mahony has slammed Tommy Carr’s comments about the state of the game in the county.
The former Dublin, Cavan and Roscommon manager has been heavily critical of the county board since the U21s’ emphatic 50-point Leinster SFC defeat to Louth and the seniors’ ongoing woes in Division 4.
However, Mahony, who retired from the panel last year, said Carr should look at what happened when he was in charge of Cavan before casting aspersions elsewhere.
“There’s been coverage of Kilkenny’s treatment of football yet nothing about the plight of hurling in other counties because it’s happening in so many counties,” said Mahony.
“Draw a line between Galway and Dublin and you have almost complete disregard for hurling above it.
“One thing that really annoyed me was when Tommy Carr went on radio and talked about the ‘disgraceful’ treatment of Kilkenny football.
“In his reign as manager of Cavan, they pulled out of the hurling league altogether.
“Someone can say something about the treatment of football in Kilkenny and yet the same things have happened to hurling in the county he was involved in was over the top.”
After four years playing senior league and junior provincial football with Kilkenny, Mahony left the panel at the end of last season.
Setting up his own chiropractor business put new constraints on him but part of his reasoning for exiting was also how disheartened he got at the manner of defeats, while he also felt his club hurling with intermediate outfit Thomastown was negated by his football commitments.
Club hurling, he says, is the prime reason why so many have left the football panel since they re-entered the Allianz League in 2008.
He believes the breaking up of that team was the beginning of Kilkenny’s demise.
“If you had kept that team together for two or three years, I’m pretty confident it would have led to improvement.
“If any team loses 20 or 25 lads from a panel of 30 within the space of four years it really does damage things.
“A lot of those players were from senior hurling clubs. The best hurlers tend to be the best footballers.
“I know being part of the football panel was affecting my club hurling so I can only imagine what it was like for the senior hurlers who were trying to make senior club hurling teams and trying to play football as well.
“There are really good footballers here, it’s just the emphasis is so much on hurling. I would find it hard to be from a senior hurling club and go and play football for the county because it’s a hard slog to get into a senior club hurling team.
“People will say ‘Kilkenny don’t train’ or ‘there’s no commitment’ but the commitment to Kilkenny is savage. You are training twice a week and playing at the weekends.
“It is a big commitment so when you’re not getting results lads will obviously put more focus on club hurling.
“We needed to get better quality players in there but it just wasn’t coming. The hurling took precedence.
“Say the James Stephens or Ballyhale hurling teams, those lads are going to do that because they’re playing in front of 8,000 or 9,000 people on club hurling final day with a chance to win Leinster and All-Ireland titles.
“There’s that and then possibly making the Kilkenny intermediate hurling team. You can’t blame any of the lads for putting their focus on hurling because that’s where the most rewards are. You’re winning games.”
Mahony hasn’t a bad word to say about the support from the county board during his time playing. “There were meals after training and always proper training facilities, gear and everything like that.”
He doesn’t know what officials can do to arrest the embarrassing results, however.
“If they’re interested in getting the football going, they need to put in an alternative before they pull out,” argued Mahony. “The junior league is the kind of level they’re at. Losing to Fermanagh like that can’t be good but there has to be something else put in place before anything is done if they’re to improve the standard.”
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