Wednesday 20 September 2017

'Issues' compound Ashe resignation

ISSUES with his Hurling Board and a potential impasse over club fixtures compounded Padraig Ashe's decision to resign as Kildare County Board chairman, it has emerged.

County Board delegates were informed at Wednesday night's meeting that Ashe, who has only been at the helm for the last 15 months, was leaving for 'personal reasons.'

He called a special executive meeting of the County Board for Wednesday night just hours after returning from a meeting of all county chairmen in Leinster with GAA director general Paraic Duffy and president Christy Cooney, who briefed them on a broad agenda of GAA matters.

Whether the content of that meeting made up Ashe's mind to go was also being speculated on last night.

Regret

Kildare's management committee issued a brief statement last night expressing "regret" over the receipt of Ashe's resignation and will now hold a special convention to find a successor.

Ashe had apparently met with the chairmen of all the clubs in the county on Monday night and had outlined to them weekend dates in May and June had been set aside for the first two rounds of the championship.

The first weekend was May 8, two weeks before Kildare's opening championship match with Wicklow in Portlaoise.

The second date under consideration was June 12, which was much more contentious, given its proximity to either a potential Leinster semi-final against Laois, Longford or Dublin or a first round qualifier, if they were knocked out in either of the first two rounds in the province.

But somewhere between that meeting on Monday night and Wednesday night, when Ashe informed his executive of his decision to stand down, lines were crossed.

It is understood that the Kildare senior management were not keen on the weekend date in June for the second round of fixtures.

There have also been some tensions between the Kildare Hurling Board and the former Kildare chairman over unrelated issues and the cumulative effect of this may have led Ashe to have considered his position -- in addition to whatever personal reasons he may have had.

Kildare only completed their club championship in 2010 with a week to spare before their champions went into battle against Portlaoise.

Moorefield were crowned champions on October 16 and lost to Portlaoise some seven days later.

In the last three years, the Kildare county final has been played a week before their representatives have been involved in Leinster.

This year's county final has been pencilled in for October 9 to try and give some breathing space for club fixtures and avoid the traditional September-October rush.

Last year, the senior football championship was virtually in suspension for four months from the first round in early May until mid-September.

Kildare's six match qualifier run left no time from the end of June until the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Meath for any local activity.

There was four weeks until the All-Ireland semi-final against Down, but given the fatigue involved in playing on six successive weekends the Kildare management lobbied for a complete break for their players in those circumstances and were granted it.

In defence of the management, Kildare have never traditionally been known for their early completion of the club championships and last year their exhaustive qualifier efforts required some recuperation time in August.

Martin McEvoy is being tipped as a potential replacement for Ashe, but as he is currently a member of the GAA's management committee it could preclude him.

Vice chairman John McMahon, who has responsibility for implementing fixtures, may not be interested.

The dates for the fixtures were due to be approved at Wednesday night's meeting, but the detail was not subsequently discussed.

It will be interesting now to see if clubs now pursue the June date for a round of club fixtures. Ironically, club fixtures were part of the agenda discussed by county chairmen with Cooney and Duffy at three different provincial meetings this week.

Ashe attended the Leinster meeting in Croke Park on Tuesday night on Kildare's behalf, but was setting in motion the process to depart the morning after that gathering.

Irish Independent

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