Friday 15 December 2017

Kilkenny football on move... to Britain

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Kilkenny footballers will ply their trade exclusively in Britain next year after opting out of the National Football League and the Leinster junior and U-21 championships.

The draft fixtures for the league, which have been circulated to counties and are still subject to change, do not include Kilkenny in what is now an eight-team Division 4 again.

Kilkenny have been on the receiving end of some very bad defeats in the league and underage football championships in recent years, culminating in the 50-point defeat to Louth in this year's Leinster U-21 series.

The GAA have given the green light for their move to Britain, which will see them play teams from London and other parts of England and Scotland in a redrawn British championship next summer.

The competition is being run off along the lines of the Christy Ring Cup and the winners will gain entry to the All-Ireland junior championship.

It is viewed as the most sensible solution to the sequence of morale-sapping defeats that have become commonplace for Kilkenny since their return to the league in 2008 after a period of hibernation.

Their only victory came against London.

The move into a much less competitive environment received unanimous approval at Monday night's Kilkenny County Board meeting and is understood to have involved GAA president Liam O'Neill behind the scenes.

Kilkenny will travel to Britain for all their games next June and those trips will be financed with the help of the GAA.

Kilkenny have been out of their depth, even in Division 4 and this year suffered a 9-23 to 0-4 defeat to Fermanagh.

Meanwhile, opportunities for Dublin's novel Spring Series to thrive look limited after the release of the draft fixture list.

The Dublin footballers and hurlers are scheduled to be on the same ticket on only one Saturday night, March 16, when the Limerick hurlers and the Tyrone footballers are on the same programme.

Dublin also play Cork and Mayo in football on other Saturday nights in February and March with a further match on Sunday, March 24 against Down.

Their last football match is away to All-Ireland champions Donegal on Sunday, April 7.

Dublin chairman Andy Kettle said that "with some ingenuity" the Spring Series can continue to thrive, despite the obvious problems in aligning good hurling and football league matches involving Dublin.

Irish Independent Sport Star Awards

Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport