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Colm Keys: Brennan lashes 'shame' of Cats' one-code wonders

KILKENNY'S Leinster Council chairman Nicky Brennan has come out strongly against his own county for paying lip service to inter-county football.

The Noresiders played their one and only senior football match in the O'Byrne Cup on Sunday when they lost to DIT in Freshford. The county's footballers will not play another senior match again for 12 months, a situation that Brennan declared "not good enough."

Some of Kilkenny's rivals have pointed to their apathy to football as one of the contributing factors to their dominance of hurling in recent years. Offaly's Brian Whelahan even suggested last year that his county would be far more competitive in a Leinster hurling championship if their loyalties weren't divided between the two codes. Brennan was critical of Kilkenny's failure to field league and senior championship teams at the recent county convention and re-iterated his views yesterday after their exit from the O'Byrne Cup.

"There is an obligation on Kilkenny to promote both hurling and Gaelic football. It's simply not good enough to be passing over the league and the championship. In fact my personal view is that it's a shame."

Brennan admitted he was hopeful that Kilkenny would revert to fielding a team in the league next season but warned that if it didn't happen in 2005 it might not happen for a long time.

In defence of his own county, he said the current divisional structure did not encourage a return and he suggested a return to four groups of eight in accordance with strength.

"People have the idea that there is not football played in Kilkenny and that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact I would say there is a lot more football played in Kilkenny than there is hurling in Louth or Longford and I'm just using those counties as an example. But that still doesn't excuse us.

"My biggest fear would be that strong football counties would look at Kilkenny, form the view that they are putting all their resources successfully into hurling and ignore the promotion of hurling themselves."

Brennan laid the blame for the failure to field a regular senior football team at the clubs in the county and not the County Board. "Kilkenny underage teams have been more competitive in underage teams recently and in fairness to the county chairman Ned Quinn he has acted as a minor selector for the last two years.

"But a situation arose this year where the Kilkenny team that lost to Dublin in the Leinster JFC had only two players from the clubs that competed in the senior and intermediate finals a week earlier."

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Meanwhile, Dublin GAA is in mourning following the untimely death of Canice Hennebry on Sunday. Hennebry, 52, was one of Dublin hurling's best known figures.

He played in an All-Ireland U21 hurling final for Dublin in 1971 and served the county as a player for many years, only hanging up the boots at the age of 42. In more recent years he acted as a county selector under former Dublin manager Kevin Fennelly and was caretaker manager for a period prior to Marty Morris' appointment in succession to Fennelly.

Hennebry was a staunch member of the Crumlin club and Dublin chairman John Bailey has paid tribute to him by describing him as one of "the most passionate hurling men in the city and county".

In Kerry, the death has taken place in Tralee of Jim Sheehy, father of football legend Mikey. The late Mr Sheehy, who was 86, died on Sunday after becoming ill over Christmas.

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