Kerry standing over Sunday switch despite clash with rugby
Kerry are standing over their decision to switch their Allianz Football League showdown against Dublin to Killarney, this Sunday afternoon – despite the now glaring clash with Ireland’s Six Nations showdown against England.
Originally set for this Saturday evening, under floodlights at Austin Stack Park in Tralee, the switch to the Sunday was actually announced by the Kerry County Board before Christmas, although perhaps not realising the potential for such a sporting conflict. Kerry against Dublin will throw-in at Fitzgerald Stadium at 2pm (live on TG4), with Ireland against England kicking-off at the Aviva Stadium at 3pm (live on RTÉ2).
What this has avoided, however, is any conflict for Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice, whose own club, Finuge, with whom he’s also still playing, along with Paul Galvin, face an All-Ireland Club Intermediate final at Croke Park, this Saturday evening, against the Fr Rocks club from Tyrone.
But, according to Kerry press officer John O’Leary, that wasn’t the reason why Kerry’s preference was for the Sunday (Finuge hadn’t qualified at the time), but rather over concerns about the capacity and suitability of Austin Stack Park.
“There has been some confusion on this, and what exactly was the issue,” said O’Leary, “but it was nothing to do with a clash of club fixtures.
“What happened was the Saturday evening was first listed under the provisional fixtures, set out late last year, and the counties are then asked to consider this, and Kerry came back with the preference for the Sunday. That was well before Christmas.
“Those Saturday evening fixtures are usually suggested as prime games, under lights. But there would have been a few reasons for preferring Killarney on the Sunday to Tralee on the Saturday evening, the main one being concerns over the capacity at Austin Stack Park, which has been reduced after the Slattery Report, and that it mightn’t be suitable for a Kerry-Dublin game. Although people mightn’t be as worried about that now, after Kerry’s performance against Mayo last Sunday.”
It has also been suggested the Kerry County Board have concerns about the floodlights at Austin Stack Park being adequate for live television.
On the Sunday
Only one other Division One game goes out on the Sunday (Mayo against Tyrone, in Castlebar, at 2pm) with the other two games – Cork against Kildare, and Donegal against Down – both set for 7pm on Saturday evening. But it appears unlikely Kerry were ever going to entertain an earlier throw-in on Sunday to help avoid the clash.
“Radio Kerry just asked me the same question,” said O’Leary, “and my answer was, well might the rugby move? But no, the game is already tied in with TG4, who wanted the 2pm start, and no one has actually asked to change it. Of course it would have been nice to avoid any clash with the rugby, but then it’s not a total clash either.”
All this now means the Kerry footballers will play just one of their league games under floodlights, on March 16th, when they host Down in Tralee.
Fitzmaurice, meanwhile, is still without Colm Cooper, Paul Galvin, Declan O’Sullivan, Aidan O’Mahony, Kieran Donaghy, Eoin Brosnan and Kieran O’Leary as he looks to address the poor showing against Mayo against a Dublin team who enjoyed one of their best starts to a league.
Cooper, Brosnan and O’Leary won’t feature until after their All-Ireland club semi-final, against Ballymun in Thurles on Saturday week, (Crossmaglen Rangers will face St Brigid’s of Roscommon in the other semi-final, on the same day, in Mullingar).
The GAA have also confirmed Kenmare Shamrocks and Castleknock will meet for a third time in their All-Ireland Club JFC semi-final at Croke Park on Saturday at 5.30pm – and curtain-raiser to the Fr Rocks-Finuge game.
Wexford and Dublin will contest the Walsh Cup final on Sunday at 2pm in Wexford Park, while Tipperary and Clare will meet in the Waterford Crystal Cup final under lights at Semple Stadium at 7.30pm.
Division One Fixtures
Cork v Kildare, 7pm, Páirc Uí Rinn, Setanta Sports 1
Donegal v Down, 7pm, Ballybofey, Setanta Ireland
Mayo v Tyrone, 2pm, Castlebar, TG4 (deferred)
Kerry v Dublin, 2pm, Killarney, TG4 (live)