Saturday 17 August 2019

Rule casts doubt on call to send Legion on to Munster as Kerry's representatives

South Kerry's Bryan Sheehan and Legion's James Donoghue
South Kerry's Bryan Sheehan and Legion's James Donoghue
Killian Young
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Anger is palpable in Dingle over the decision of the Kerry County Board to nominate Legion as the county's representatives for Sunday's Munster Club Championship game against Cork kingpins Nemo Rangers.

The decision follows the drawn county senior final between Legion and South Kerry which placed an added and unenviable burden on board officials.

Had Legion lost to South Kerry, Dingle would have been the county's Munster club championship representatives, courtesy of their Kerry club championship win earlier this year because the provincial club championships do not cater for divisional teams.

The Kerry structures are unique in that the 11 senior clubs play for a senior club championship and are then joined by nine divisional and district teams (South Kerry, Mid Kerry, Kenmare District, etc), which incorporate amalgamations from all the intermediate and junior clubs, for the senior county championship.

Dingle were of the understanding that because the replay of the county final was put back to November 22, due to the involvement of St Mary's Cahirsiveen (they had five players starting for South Kerry in last Sunday's game) in the Munster intermediate semi-final against Clare's Corofin on Saturday, they would go forward to represent Kerry.

However, the Kerry County Board has a regulation stating that "in the case of the senior football championship Kerry shall be represented by the longest standing club in the county senior football championship with the following exceptions where the county shall be represented by the winners of the Kerry club championship where the county championship is not completed and all club teams have been eliminated."

If the interpretation of a rule in the GAA's Official Guide was strictly adhered to, Kerry may not be entitled to representation at all in Munster because their county championship is not complete.

Rule 6.24 (a) states that "in the event of a County or Provincial Championship not being completed, the respective Provincial or All-Ireland Championship shall continue without a representative of the county or province concerned."

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Any interpretation of this rule, which clearly prevents counties who haven't completed their county championships from nominating representatives, raises questions over Legion's participation in the Munster club championship.

Kerry's bye-law is clear but it appears to be in direct contravention of the Official Guide and it raises the question as to how a of a bye-law can supplant general rule in this manner. The matter was being discussed at a Munster Management Committee meeting last night.

Kerry officials had been in touch with Munster officials on their predicament before arriving at their decision yesterday morning to give the green light to Legion.

Dingle chairman Jimmy Bambury has said his club are asking Kerry to review the decision they have taken to nominate Legion.

"Best of luck to Legion, but if they go forward they could win the Munster and All-Ireland club championship, possibly not having won either the county championship or the club championship," he said.

"We are disappointed. We were chomping at the bit to go and we would have understood, if Legion won the county championship, that they would go forward and represent our county.

"We understood on Sunday night that, when the county championship was going back, the only fall-back was the club championship which we have won. Myself and the manager (Paul Fitzmaurice) were making preparations to play Nemo.


"That didn't happen. There is a rule being cited to us now. People will say it is clear and distinct. I disagree," he said. "It says the last club standing in the event of the county championship represents the county. What would be the case if there was two clubs?" he asked.

"We're not so sure about the rule being cited. We don't think is it foolproof."

Bambury echoed the view of county player Paul Geaney earlier in the day that the status of the club championship had been damaged by this decision.

"That was one of the big selling points of that competition. One of its big promotional points, that you had that second bite of the cherry to get into the Munster championship.

"It had that importance and but this diminishes the importance of that competition. That's not ideal."

He supported the divisional model used by Kerry, however, because it potentially afforded every player in the county an opportunity to win the premier title.

Earlier in the day, Dingle manager Paul Fitzmaurice took the Kerry County Board to task over the fixtures issue.

"There's too much going on. There were players on the county panel that saw no game time and yet they were pulled from teams this year.

"It's not good enough, the whole thing is being strangled for the smallest number of players," he told Radio Kerry.

"Realistically these fellas are still developing and it's not fair. It's an abuse of their capabilities.

"The whole system is just wrong within the county and (with) this fiasco, I'm afraid the County Board have been shown up."

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