Saturday 24 February 2018

'Pointless' Kilkenny must not pull out of NFL, insists former chief

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

The Kilkenny footballers' failure to register a single score last weekend will inevitably lead for calls to pull them out of the Allianz Football League.

However, one man who was behind a prior such move is now hugely opposed to the idea.

"I was involved in our decision to pull out of the league about 10 years ago and I honestly believe it was the worst thing we ever did," said Tom Duggan, the former chairman of the Kilkenny Football Board.

"This is only our third year back in the league so it's still a trial period," he stressed of Kilkenny's big-ball travails which saw them slaughtered 3-19 to 0-0 by Leitrim last weekend.

This came on the back of two other massive NFL defeats this season: 0-16 to 0-2 against London and 5-17 to 1-1 against Clare.

That means they've scored 1-3 in three games, and Sunday's failure to register even one score has really raised a red flag.

"I know that scoreline looks terrible, and you'll have people screaming about it, but pulling out of the league is not the solution," Duggan continued.

"The last time we did that, the only football we were playing was in the Leinster junior championship, and that's not the solution.


"Unlike the lower hurling divisions, we are still playing counties where football is still very strong -- you have the likes of Roscommon in Division 4 this year.

"Hurling managers rule the roost in Kilkenny and I don't mean at county level but at club level. That means we just don't get the players we need because their first allegiance is to hurling."

Duggan accepted that other counties, where hurling is strong, still manage to be far more more competitive in football than Kilkenny, not least neighbours Waterford, whose footballers took Limerick's scalp last weekend.

"I accept that, and you could probably say it's the same for Kerry or Leitrim hurlers, who are battling away in counties that are primarily football," he conceded.

"But we have lost a few players in the last two seasons and have been struggling too with injuries.

"I know that the management have been trying out players in different positions too in the first few league games, which probably explains the lack of scores too."

But he said football in Kilkenny inevitably loses the county's best dual talent, pointing out that David Herity, who started in goals for the hurlers last weekend, previously starred for the county footballers.

"The reality is that our best players choose hurling with their clubs first, but we have a hardcore of players, performing to the best of their ability and they need to be supported," he added.

Irish Independent

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