Kilkenny reel as Fennelly bows to work demands

 

Kilkenny were left without a hurling manager last night following the shock resignation of Kevin Fennelly. Exactly a month after Kilkenny were defeated by Offaly in the All-Ireland final, and only hours after being offered a second term, Fennelly informed the county board that he would not continue.

The 43-year-old, who has several business interests and is a Fianna Fail councillor, cited work commitments for his decision to step down.

"I feel I wouldn't have the time to do the job the way I would like to do it and in that situation I could not expect a full commitment from the players," he said.

Fennelly was due to be given a second term. But only hours before the county board was due to make a decision on Monday he phoned chairman John Healy and asked that no decision be made. After giving the matter further thought he informed the board yesterday that he was stepping aside.

"This is a big disappointment and shock to us," said Healy. "It was particularly so after Kevin guided the team to within a few points of an All-Ireland victory only last month." Fennelly this season guided Kilkenny to their first Leinster championship victory in five years. His year in the job was never short on drama. Inheriting a team in decline, his early months were marked by low-key performances and the shock retirement of DJ Carey in February.

Carey's quick return did little to re-ignite their NHL campaign and they ended up in a relegation playoff. Fennelly discarded senior players such as John Power and Adrian Ronan from his panel and brought on several younger players. Championship victories over Dublin and Laois preceded the Leinster final win over Offaly. Waterford were seen off in their semi-final.

Following the All-Ireland defeat to Offaly, there was some criticism - most notably from former captain Eddie O'Connor - of Fennelly's management.

Among those who may come under consideration to succeed Fennelly is his brother Brendan.

The complete fixture list for the 1998-99 National Football League has been issued.

A full series of matches in all four new divisions will be played on November 1st, 15th and 29th. Four matches in Division 2A will be played on December 6th. The league then goes into its winter break before resuming on February 1st.

Venues for the matches will be set later by the home county in each case. The national league is again sponsored by Church and General.

All-Ireland champions Galway travel to Leitrim for their first match, ensuring a sell-out crowd at Carrick-on-Shannon.

After the four divisions have been completed, the top three teams in Divisions 1A and 1B qualify for the quarter-finals, when they will be joined by the winners of Divisions 2A and 2B.

Tyrone's victorious minor football management team has been appointed to take over the county's under-21 team.

Mickey Harte and Fr Gerard McAleer will renew their relationship with the players they have worked with over the past three years, during which the minor side reached two All-Ireland finals, defeating Laois to win this year's title.