THE just published North Kerry Football Review has stopped short of recommending a merger of Feale Rangers and Shannon Rangers to form one team to compete in the county senior football championship.
However, the report suggests that several structures and initiatives must be put in place in order to raise the standard of football in both divisional teams, and across the North Kerry Board area in general.
“While accepting that Feale Rangers and Shannon Rangers have not been performing at the required level in the senior county championship in recent seasons we contend that it is too early to merge the teams to form a North Kerry team,” the report states.
“Playing numbers at senior level are not a challenge and it is important to be able to cast the net wide and to allow as many players as possible from North Kerry to play at county championship level. This exposure will improve them as players, which by extension will help their clubs. It is also the shop window for the Kerry under 20 and senior teams.
“By having three competitive teams (including St Kierans) featuring North Kerry clubs competing at county championship it increases the likelihood of improved representation on the county squads.
“The recent under-performance in the county championship can be directly linked to a vicious circle of lack of interest and inadequate preparation. This pattern clearly emerged in the questionnaires. Other Divisional sides are way ahead in their approach and preparation for the county championship so it is little surprise Feale Rangers and Shannon Rangers are currently significantly underperforming.”
The report – which was chaired by Eamonn Fitzmaurice, who captained Feale Rangers to the 2007 county championship, the last time the Bishop Moynihan Cup went to north Kerry – recommends that Shannon Rangers and Feale Rangers have to revamp both district teams, have fully functioning club executives and management teams in place for March 1, 2022.
It also recommends that both are properly resourced and are prepared as well as possible for the county championship, which will regenerate interest for the players.
“When they leave their clubs to prepare with a divisional side the setup has to be a step up from club level. At the moment players feel the opposite is the case,” it says.
The report continues: “It is important that the North Kerry Board has a vested interest in both teams and is heavily involved in the running of both.
"Having the North Kerry Board backing the divisional sides should lead to better organisation and a more cohesive approach. Financial backing will also help both sides resource their teams appropriately, as is happening with other divisional sides. Ultimately it is about getting the right people involved in the management, coaching and athletic development of the teams. The Athletic Development Coach would have a significant role with both teams.
“We recommend reviewing the progress after two years of proper resourcing and proper preparation and then deciding if there is need to amalgamate the two teams. Any possible amalgamation would have to be ratified by the North Kerry Board. That will form an accurate measurement of where Feale Rangers and Shannon Rangers are rather than measuring progress off recent campaigns with little or no preparation.
“As a committee we feel that if all of these recommendations are implemented incremental improvements will be evident immediately and within a couple of seasons significant progress can be made.
“North Kerry can and will be restored to its rightful status as a football powerhouse with its clubs contesting strongly in all championships, its divisional sides challenging for county championships and with an increased participation in all county panels.”