KERRY GAA’s plans to sell Austin Stack Park to a developer and relocate to a state of the art complex at the old Ballybeggan Park Racecourse have been shelved.
However, the County Committee is to drive on with alternative plans, Chairman Jerome Conway, told last night’s Annual Convention at the Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney.
“Unfortunately, the planned transfer from the present Austin Stack Park has been parked due to the economic circumstances that exist,” Conway told delegates. “This, however, does not change the crying-out demand for proper training facilities for our inter-county teams.
“For instance, as and from the first of January three of our teams will be training three times weekly and as and from the first of March two others will be doing likewise. I acknowledge readily and deeply appreciate the co-operation of clubs in this respect but clubs also need their facilities for their own use.
“There is, therefore, an outcry for training facilities and the Co Board must provide them, as we are lagging behind other counties in this respect. Land must be purchased and facilities must be developed without delay and, as of the first of January, we will be in the market.”
He said 2009 saw the opening of the magnificent new development at Fitzgerald Stadium which he described as a fitting development in a very fine stadium.
“My thanks to Patrick O Sullivan (Vice-Chairman) for his untiring work in planning and seeing this development through. My sincere thanks also to the Fitzgerald Stadium Finance Committee, which has undertaken to pay off the inevitable loan required.”
It was a year of celebration for the GAA nationwide but Kerry celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Association in their own inimitable style – by winning the All-Ireland senior football championship for a 36th time.
And it was hardly surprising that delegates should arrive at last night’s in jubilant mood but the chairman warned of challenges ahead.
“2010 will present the management team with a huge challenge, when endeavouring to retain the title,” he said.
“Tadhg Kennelly has returned to Australia. He certainly played his part in the year’s success and this should not be forgotten in the furore over his book, in which he undoubtedly erred but for which he has apologised.
“Tommy Walsh has also gone Down Under and who can blame him for trying his hand at the professional game. I am quite sure that he will play an important role again for Kerry in the future. Nevertheless, their departure, coupled with some retirements, will contribute to the challenge.”
He said Kerry would support the new rules which are to be experimented with in next year’s league.
“It is intended to experiment with some new rules in the forthcoming National League,” he said.
“Kerry will always support changes that will contribute to open and entertaining games and some of these rules are intended for such. However, in football, I feel the use of hand-pass should be curbed and negative tactics should not be rewarded.” He joined Secretary, Peter Twiss, in celebrating another amazing year for Kerry football and, in so doing he pledged his support for the Munster championship.
“Let me stress that at the beginning of every year, Kerry sets out to win it – we have great respect for the Munster Championship and the provincial system has served Kerry very well down through the years.
“This year alone, our clubs have benefited to the tune of €380,000 for development, Fitzgerald Stadium received a grant of €600,000 to complete the new development there and our six full-time coaches in the county, together with the Games Manager, are part-funded by the Council. These are just some of the projects that are funded by the Munster Council.”
“Once the team reached Croke Park, it seemed to gain new verve, new impetus and new belief,” he said.
“The players were definitely re-energised.
“Cork was the form team going into the All-Ireland final and richly deserved the tag of favourites.
“Great credit must be given to the management team of Jack O Connor, Ger O’Keeffe and Eamonn Fitzmaurice for the amount of astute planning that went into that game. Similar credit must be given to the players for the implementation of the plan. It was indeed a combination of both that won us the 36th title.
” At a time when, in other counties, the toll on players has made it impossible to come back on the following year, our players have contested six-in-a-row. Credit for this must be given to the training regime of Pat Flanagan and, this year, Alan O Sullivan. However, at the end of the day, the manager is responsible. What a record Jack O Connor has – manager of Kerry for four years, reached four finals and won three. Enough said!”
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