Saturday 3 December 2016

Crokes have support from Kerry rivals for deferral of league final

Published 16/11/2016 | 02:30

Crokes selector Harry O’Neill. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
Crokes selector Harry O’Neill. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

Kerry's Competition Controls Committee (CCC) is pressing ahead with plans to stage the county's Division 1 league final between Dr Crokes and Austin Stacks this weekend despite strong sentiments from both clubs not to play it.

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Crokes are keen not to play it to allow for proper time to prepare for a Munster club final against Waterford's The Nire eight days later. And they have allies in Stacks who, on their website, agree that the county champions should be offered more time to prepare for a prestigious fixture.

The final has been fixed for Crokes' home venue, Lewis Road, on Saturday (2.30) and official notification has been sent out to both clubs.

"This is despite the fact that Crokes will be out again on the following weekend in the Munster club championship final and following a very compelling argument made by Crokes to have the game rearranged," Stacks say on their website.

"While we understand the Board's desire to complete the competition in the same calendar year (and this has happened only twice in the last six seasons - in 2011 and 2013), the bigger picture has to be taken into account here - the winning of Munster and All-Ireland titles for the county and more important - player welfare."

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Crokes selector Harry O'Neill said the matter was in the hands of their administrators and pointed out that in similar circumstances the teams would be fixed to play in the first round of the 2017 league and this would double as the 2016 league final.

This is Crokes' only opportunity for a weekend break as they have the Munster club final the following weekend followed by an East Kerry O'Donoghue Cup match on December 4.

The league final could be played on the weekend after that but, as O'Neill pointed out, that would be a long time without a game for Stacks who were knocked out of the county championship by Kenmare District in early October.

If the final goes ahead, Crokes will be in action for 10 consecutive weekends, according to O'Neill. "We are representing Kerry, we are asking that we be given the opportunity to prepare properly. It would be different if Stacks were saying no."

The insistence by a local fixtures committee that a league final goes ahead against a club's wishes has caused problems in Down too where Kilcoo refused to play Castlewellan, four days after a tough Ulster encounter with Glenswilly. The title was awarded to Castlewellan but Kilcoo are appealing to the Ulster Council.

Irish Independent

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