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Cats have to take first step to address football fiasco, says Cooney

Kilkenny have to take responsibility for the embarrassing defeats suffered by their footballers, Christy Cooney says.

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

KILKENNY’S DEMORALISING RUN of one-sided football defeats will continue until the county board take action, GAA President Christy Cooney said yesterday.

With 33 All-Ireland hurling titles under their belt, the Cats’ dominance with the small ball is no secret, but the county’s footballers have fallen to embarrassingly heavy defeats twice in the last week.

Kilkenny’s U21s were on the receiving end of a 50-point drubbing by Louth in the first round of the Leinster Championship last Wednesday, and on Sunday, the senior side lost their NFL Division 4 tie against Fermanagh by a staggering 46 points.

“I don’t believe it’s down to the quality of footballers in Kilkenny,” Cooney remarked. “I believe it’s down to a desire for people to want to play for their county.

It seems to be the situation that the only interest they have in playing at senior inter-county level is hurling. It’s going to take a massive education process to change that, and whether it will happen, I’m not sure.

One option for Kilkenny would be to follow the lead of the Cavan County Board, who withdrew their hurlers from senior competition last season and put in place a five-year plan to strengthen the county from the grassroots up.

The impetus for any similar initiative will have to come from Kilkenny themselves, Cooney believes.

“I think Kilkenny have to look themselves at whether they want to continue or not with the development of football, particularly at inter-county level, because at club level they’ve some very good footballers and good clubs and they play good club competitions.

I’ve no doubt that we’ll take the opportunity at the end of the league to review the position and people will talk to Kilkenny about their participation and what it can be and what it can achieve going forward.

But it’s really primarily a responsibility for Kilkenny initially and then how the Association can support it and develop the football in Kilkenny.

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Niall Kelly

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