Kerry championship has its complications


GAELIC GAMES NEWS:THE SLOW and often convoluted county championship season is almost at an endgame, although things still aren’t exactly straightforward in Kerry. Sunday’s senior football final between Dr Crokes of Killarney and Mid-Kerry, set for Fitzgerald Stadium, is typically high-stakes, with the Kerry football captaincy for 2012 just one of the prizes on offer.

Yet this shouldn’t be confused with the Kerry senior club football final, which was actually played last Sunday, and saw Rathmore narrowly beat Laune Rangers. One of the prizes on offer there, although only maybe, is a place in the Munster club championship.

That’s because Mid-Kerry, being a divisional team, or amalgamation of eight clubs, aren’t permitted to play in the Munster club championship – and that’s where things can get a little complicated.

“Every year we seem to confuse people on this, except ourselves,” says Peter Twiss, secretary of the Kerry County Board. “If a club team wins the senior football championship then they represent Kerry in Munster. So if Crokes win on Sunday they go through, simple as that. Where it gets a little unusual is where if Crokes don’t win, and a divisional team does win, such as Mid-Kerry, then it goes back to our club championships, which we run separate again.

“Our senior football championship is for both clubs and divisional teams, that’s the tradition. Whereas the senior club championship is confined to the 11 senior clubs only. So, in the event of a divisional team winning the senior football, it’s the winners of our club championship that goes through to Munster.”

So that club would be Rathmore, who, at the risk of confusing things further, beat Dr Crokes in the club semi-final. (They’ll also be without defender Aidan O’Mahony, as he played some 50 minutes of Sunday’s win over Laune Rangers with a broken leg.) What is certain is the nomination process of the Kerry captaincy, which falls to whoever wins on Sunday, Dr Crokes or Mid-Kerry.

“If Dr Crokes win they can nominate whoever,” explains Twiss. “If Mid-Kerry win what usually happens is they nominate a player from that division. But usually what happens if a divisional team win, more by tradition than rule, is that it goes on the Mid-Kerry senior championship, which is run separate again, and includes Glenbeigh, Cromane, and another six clubs. And whichever of those clubs wins the Mid-Kerry championship it tends to fall on them to actually nominate the captain, which is a sort of treat for winning that part of the championship.”

And what stage is the Mid-Kerry championship at? “It hasn’t even started yet,” says Twiss. “But traditionally they only start around now, and only takes a few weeks.”

It means if Dr Crokes win on Sunday Colm Cooper could retain the Kerry captaincy for 2012; or again, traditionally, the club usually passes it around, which means Kieran O’Leary would appear to be next in line. Either way Sunday’s game should be fascinating: Dr Crokes are defending champions yet both teams have very strong forwards. What is also certain is Kerry’s Munster representatives – whether that’s Dr Crokes or Rathmore – have a date against Waterford champions Ballinacourty the following Sunday.

“And I know what your next question will be,” says Twiss. “But given the close timeframe we’ve decided a replay, if needed, would take place next Friday night, which if Dr Crokes won, would mean they were out again on the Sunday, 48 hours later. But they’re okay with that, and of course it wouldn’t apply to Rathmore.”

Now, to completely complicate things, both Dr Crokes and Mid-Kerry have players on the UCC team, which recently won the Cork county title – and could end up playing the Kerry champions in the Munster club final: “From Dr Crokes you have Johnny Buckley and Daithi Casey, and from Mid-Kerry, you have Gavin O’Grady. They’re playing for UCC as well, so Gavin O’Grady for example will be playing against Daithí Casey this Sunday, and played with him last Sunday. And they could be playing against each other again later on.”

Kerry are not unique in these situations: it’s also been confirmed Moyle Rovers will represent Tipperary in the Munster football championship, as their county final opponents on Sunday week, Thomas McDonaghs, are also an amalgamation of nine clubs, from North Tipperary.

ANTHONY CUNNINGHAMhas been officially ratified as manager of the Galway senior hurlers for next season. Elsewhere, Ross Dunphy has been appointed as fitness/strength and conditioning coach for Tipperary’s senior hurling team.