FORMER Oulart-The Ballagh supremo Willie Sunderland has quit as Kildare Senior hurling manager.
Sunderland, who took charge in 2011 and guided the team to a Division 2B title in 2012, announced his decision to the players in the dressing-room following a training session before Christmas. His entire backroom team have also quit their posts.
'I don't feel too good about it. I feel really sad and very sorry for the 25-30 players that are putting in a serious effort for me and for Kildare,' he said in an interview in the 'Sunday Independent'.
'But there have been cracks in the whole link with the County Board for the past few months and they have widened to an extent that I feel I'm just not in control of the team any more.
'We have had serious issues with basic stuff, like the availability of physios, pitches and trying to get challenge matches before we make a step up and played the likes of Westmeath, Wicklow, Laois, Kerry and Derry in Division 2A. One of my players got inujured at a Sunday morning training session and I didn't even have an ice-pack to give him, never mind a physio.
'We have been told that all county teams have to train together - hurling and football - on the same night and share physios. That's fine, but we've been designated pitch number four at Hawkfield. There are floodlights there, but the problem is they are not attached to the generator.'
Sunderland confirmed that his fellow selectors, Mattie Dowd and Don McSweeney, and coach Bertie Sherlock have all stepped down too.
The Lilywhites Board has been struggling to fight an ongoing financial crisis, with their running deficit rising to over €700,000.
The county has already been subject to a financial overseer, the former Munster Council Secretary, Simon Moroney, since April last as part of the conditions for a €300,000 cash advance from Croke Park.
'I'm a reasonable man, I know we're in very tough recessionary times and I know the County Board is in a crisis with finances,' added Sunderland.
'But from what I can see, €75,000 has been made available to Kildare hurling teams in 2013. I have to try and prepare a team to play league and championship out of that, and the Minors and Under-21s have to be looked after too.
'The bottom line is, we're being cut, cut, cut to the bone. And the future of Kildare hurling, if there is to be one, deserves better.'