'KDL is not a dictatorship'

Mike Rice and Paul Brennan

The Kerry District League (KDL) Honorary Secretary John O'Regan has responded to criticism of Kerry soccer by suggesting that 14 walkovers conceded across the season so far does not constitute a crisis, and saying that the KDL executive is not "a dictatorship".

Mr O'Regan made his comments at an Emergency Delegate Meeting on Monday night, which appears to have been convened to deal directly with an opinion piece published in The Kerryman a fortnight ago, as well as allegations of online criticism of the KDL on social media platforms.

While Mr O'Regan - along with KDL chairman Sean O'Keeffe - gave tacit acknowledgement that there are issues around fixtures and structures, Mr O'Regan went on the attack when he addressed The Kerryman article written by soccer correspondent Mike Rice.

Club delegates were informed that the article in question has been sent to the CEO of the FAI, John Delaney.

Mr O'Regan told delegates that "a red herring usually appears in some paper towards the end of the season". He said almost every year some people in the press come up with articles focusing on sensationalism.

"There was a high perch every year in Killorglin where they put a goat and I know someone else who could be put up there," he said.

Mr O'Regan informed delegates that the KDL AGM was coming up on June 8 and clubs would have an opportunity to discuss issues of concern at this forum. He insisted the KDL "always strive to keep the interests and welfare of clubs to the fore" and they "were not a dictatorship".

When the floor was opened up for questions some lively debate ensued, most of which was conducted in a mannerly way. However, when Killarney Celtic's Brian Spillane asked that the KDL produce a full fixture list, end league finals, and stop the policy of charging players and mentors €2 to go into Mounthawk Park, Mr O'Regan said that these issues were brought up at previous AGMs and were voted for by the clubs.

A number of club delegates made suggestions for ways of shortening the season, including having no replays in cup competitions, but the Secretary ruled that out, saying that every club was entitled to a replay.

Asked if clubs were happy with the way the KDL is being run, a number of delegates indicated they were with a show of hands, but the meeting wasn't asked by way of a show of hands if any delegate or club was unhappy with how things were being run.

KDL chairman Sean O'Keeffe dissected The Kerryman article piece by piece, and while he denied that the game in Kerry is in crisis, he said he would do his best to try and address any problems that were causing concern for clubs.

"We are here to try and do things differently and there is no question of sweeping anything under the carpet," O'Keeffe said. "It's a changing society and we will try to the best of our ability to run the KDL to all clubs' satisfaction."

Mr O'Keeffe said the walkovers were not the fault of the KDL, but the clubs. He accepted there were areas the KDL needed to address and said they would do their best to iron these out. He emphasised that a lot of clubs are under pressure for players and it was common in all codes of sport.

Regarding the season going on too long, he indicated that divisions may be reduced to nine teams next season.