Monday 20 November 2017

Cats eye the 'Fair Play' cream

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

KILKENNY footballers don't win any games, but at least they lose gracefully. Now, their fair play approach could earn €10,000 for the county board as part of the GAA's drive to encourage good sportsmanship in the National Leagues.

Kilkenny, who have lost all seven games in Division 4 by an average of 23 points, are currently in the top six in football -- alongside Clare, Limerick, Longford, Wicklow and Sligo -- with one round of games to go. The Fair Play Index was introduced this year, with €10,000 to go to the winners in the football and hurling leagues.

Galway, Waterford, Clare, Limerick, Cork and Laois lead the way in hurling with one round of games to go. The divisional finals will also be taken into account, using an average figure so that the participants are not disadvantaged by playing more games than the rest.

It has been a dismal season for Kilkenny footballers, who have scored just 5-22 in seven games, while conceding 22-128. However, they have a good disciplinary record, picking up an average of two yellows cards per game.

Clare and Limerick, both chasing promotion from Division 4, have an equally good disciplinary record.

Dublin, who lie seventh in the table with 19 yellow cards, have been the best-behaved side in Division 1, while Galway are the group's bad boys with 32 yellows. It leaves them in second last place overall, with the bottom slot going to Carlow, who have picked up 35 yellow and two straight red cards.

However, Carlow manager Luke Dempsey defended their record, suggesting that referees were excessively hard on them.

"Maybe it was a case of refs thinking that Carlow were noted for fouling and being that bit harder on us," he said. "Certainly that's how it looked because we picked up bookings for next to nothing.

"I don't believe anybody would ever associate Carlow football with negativity, whatever the Fair Play Index might say," he said.

Longford, Fermanagh, Cavan, South Down and Donegal had the worst records in hurling prior to last Sunday. The latest figures will be compiled tomorrow when all the referees' reports for last weekend are checked by Croke Park.

Irish Independent

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