Kilkenny big ball players go British


KILKENNY HAVE opted out of the Allianz Football League for 2013 – bowing it seems to pressure and guidance from Croke Park after humiliating defeats in recent seasons. Instead, they will compete in the mooted British Championship.

The move was proposed at Monday’s county board meeting, and unanimously approved, with GAA president Liam O’Neill among those to suggest they would be better served by taking the time out.

Kilkenny no longer take part in the senior football championship. They opted out of the league before, before returning four years ago, since when they’ve recorded just one win, in 2008 over London, and once again finished bottom of Division Four in 2012, registering just 3-25 in eight games, and conceding 26-195. On March 4th, Fermanagh beat them by 9-23 to 0-4.

The decision also includes opting out of the Leinster junior and under-21 football championship: earlier this year, the under-21s were beaten by 50 points, by Louth.

The Kilkenny footballers will participate in the new British Championship next season, playing London B teams, plus teams from other parts of England and one from Scotland.

This championship will be played off during June 2013, run along the lines of the Christy Ring Cup in hurling, with the winners gaining entry to the All-Ireland junior championship. This will mean Kilkenny travelling to London, Manchester and Scotland for the matches, which will be part-financed by the GAA.

Meanwhile Kilkenny hurler Tommy Walsh has been included in the Irish senior panel for the annual Hurling/Shinty International Series with Scotland. Played on a home and away basis, the opening game will take place in Bught Park, Inverness, on Saturday, October 20th, with the second leg in Ennis on October 27th. There will also be an under-21 series of games.

The Irish team will be managed by John Meyler (Wexford) and Michael Walshe (Kilkenny), with Gregory O’Kane (Antrim) and Jeffrey Lynskey (Galway) looking after the under-21 team. Teams are selected after two trial games.

Finally, Kilkenny’s Henry Shefflin (hurling) and Donegal’s Michael Murphy (football) have been named GAA/GPA Players of the Month for September: both selections, chosen by the inter-county playing body, recognise the outstanding individual contributions both players made during their respective All-Ireland finals.

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