Saturday 24 August 2019

'I don't understand how there was one rule for everyone else and another rule for Kerry'

Kerry manager Fintan O'Connor
Kerry manager Fintan O'Connor

John Morley

While all eyes will be on the extensive coverage of the Munster and Leinster championships this weekend, it will also mark the start of the Joe McDonagh Cup.

Star of the Fitzgibbon Cup, Shane Conway is among the spoils in a Kerry team that has showed a bridging of the gap between the McDonagh and McCarty sides alongside Carlow and Westmeath in recent seasons.

With the establishment of the McDonagh Cup two years ago it was decided that Leinster teams who won the competition would achieve automatic promotion to the Leinster Championship.

However, Kerry, as the only Munster team in the competition, would have to play in a promotion play-off with the bottom team in the Munster championship.

Kerry manager Fintan O'Connor has a young side, backboned by successful Lixnaw club players and a string of underage All-Irelands in the B hurling championship.

O'Connor was unsure as to why there was a change of rules unique to Kerry in the competition's promotion mechanism.

Speaking of the rule tweaks, he said, "I don't know. We actually played in Leinster before the Joe McDonagh. The first drive in Kerry we were involved in the Leinster championship, no different than Antrim.

"We were probably looking to stay in that. If Joe McDonagh winners go up, then why shouldn't Kerry be afforded the same promotion opportunity?

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"We're not saying 'We should go straight into the Munster Championship'. The Munster championship is unbelievable, and the Leinster championship too for that matter. But, it's probably a bit of an unfairness against Kerry too in that regard," he said.

O'Connor remains confused with the promotion logistics and the reasons behind them.

"I don't understand what happened and how Kerry fell between the cracks in the Joe McDonagh. How there was one rule for everyone else and another rule for Kerry.

"Obviously, I'd like to be treated the same as everyone else and everyone else gets promoted to the Leinster championship," he added.

O'Connor was reluctant to dwell too much on the structural disparity as he realises his side won't have to worry about it unless they do win the competition.

"We've no divine right to win the Joe McDonagh… until we win it we can't really say it's unfair," he added.

O'Connor was full of praise for the competition; relishing the competitiveness between the competing teams.

"We are proud to be representing Kerry in a hurling competition that's a really good competition and that probably could be covered better," O'Connor said.

O'Connor has called for McDonagh Cup games to be shown on online streaming service, highlighting the coverage of the Fitzgibbon Cup as testament to the potential in showcasing the skilful teams in it.

"Last year it was probably the best kept secret of the GAA, apart from the results on The Sunday Game, there was very little coverage on it.

"I think the right thing for everyone in the competition and for the GAA, [to achieve] promotion of the game in the weaker counties, they should definitely be looking at promoting the Joe McDonagh."

Understanding the strain on the national broadcaster, O'Connor called for private streaming services to give a platform for the games.

"I know resources are finite and I know RTE can't have a camera at every ground around the country every Saturday and every Sunday.

"But you see what they done for the Fitzgibbon with very few resources and the profile they had for the Fitzgibbon this year by streaming the games live.

"That platform now is available to so many people and I think it's a simple fix."

Speaking about supporters who find themselves unable to travel to matches, O'Connor said streaming would have massive benefits.

"I can imagine that an awful lot of people that might be interested in seeing the match mightn't be able to travel to the match.

"There are loads of really proud and passionate people in Kerry that want to see their own players play… Look, I'm sure they'll be a big audience for [the Antrim] game alone, on Saturday."

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