'Dynamos stopped me playing' says Hegarty
TRALEE soccer player John Hegarty this week hit out at the local Dynamos FC and said he was bitter over the way the club had brought his playing season to a premature end.
Hegarty played nine games at the start of the season with League of Ireland club Limerick City, but he returned to Kerry soccer when two or three journeys to Limerick every week became too difficult.
According to the rules of the Kerry District League, which has junior status and the rules of the Munster Council, no player can play junior soccer after playing more than five games at senior level.
But a meeting was held by the county board to discuss the case. A senior County Board officer told The Kerryman this week that Hegarty's case was treated "very sympathetically because not many Kerry players get a chance to play League of Ireland soccer."
There were no objections to John Hegarty returning to Kerry soccer at that meeting, but his club was advised not to play him until written notification was received from the Munster Council that it would allow the rule barring him from playing to be waived. Members of Tralee Dynamos club and Hegarty's club, Tralee United, were present at the County Board meeting.
Another County Board official contacted an officer of the Munster Council by telephone and was told that the Council would turn a blind eye if there were no objections by other clubs in Kerry, but that they would have to act on the rules if an objection was raised.
Hegarty's club, Tralee United, which is poised to take its first league title this year under strong opposition from Tralee Dynamos, played him on the strength of the conversation with the Munster Council officer. The County Board insisted on written notification from the Council however.
Hegarty played two games, the second of these being an Anchor Shield quarter-final in which United handed out a 5-0 thrashing to Dynamos.
The following Tuesday, however, John Hegarty says he learned that Dynamos were objecting to him.
The game was awarded to Dynamos and Hegarty was banned from playing Kerry soccer for the remainder of the season. And while the objection was pending, the Munster Council wrote to the County Board telling it that they could not condone any flouting of the rules.
Now John Hegarty says he feels bitter at the way Dynamos handled their objection.
"There was no objection at the County Board meeting held three weeks before the game. Why didn't they object to me then?" he asked.
"I don't know what their motivation was, whether they wanted to win the Anchor Shield or just to stop me playing," he went on. "That's not sportsmanship."
Timmy Counihan, Chairman of the Dynamos club, admitted this week that the matter was "badly handled" by his club. He said John Hegarty, or the manager of Tralee United, James Hussey, should have been told prior to the Anchor Shield game that Dynamos were not happy with John Hegarty playing and that an objection would probably be raised if he did play. He said he was absent himself on the day due to illness.
But he also asserted that "the rule is there" and that the County Board should have had the matter sorted out before then.