Cathal Noonan/INPHO

'The county board have been shown up' - Dingle have their say on Kerry fixtures 'fiasco'

Dingle manager Paul Fitzmaurice has been speaking to Radio Kerry today.

DINGLE HAVE HAD their say on the club fixtures crisis that has denied them the chance to represent Kerry in the AIB Munster senior club championship.

As reigning club champions in the Kingdom, it had been expected that Dingle would be sent forward to play Nemo Rangers next weekend after yesterday’s county decider between South Kerry and Killarney Legion finished in a draw.

Under rule, a divisional outfit such as South Kerry is ineligible to compete in the provincial series but Legion, as the longest-serving club team still operating in the county championship, have been given the nod.

The news hasn’t gone down well with Dingle manager Paul Fitzmaurice, who outlined his frustrations to Radio Kerry‘s Joe O’Mahony today.

“When you break it down, it was last minute,” Fitzmaurice said.

“Kerry could have had no representative going through to Munster this year, and that is solely down to fixture congestion.

Willie Eviston, John Meagher, John Ryan and Evan Sweeney The Tipperary SFC final replay took place on St Stephen's Day last year. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

“You saw it happen with Tipperary having no representative (in Munster last year) and until last night there was no (Kerry) representative.

“They were waiting on a ruling from Croke Park and apparently Munster Council came back…more power to Legion but it absolutely shows up the fixture congestion in this county.”

With no county champion in place to meet Munster deadlines, the local rumour mill suggested initially that Dingle would be sent forward from the Kingdom – but Fitzmaurice outlined the explanation given to Dingle.

“When provided with the rule as stated, if a district wins the county championship, the club champions will go ahead to represent the county but if the competition has not yet been completed, the longest standing member in the county championship will represent Kerry. That’s what we were provided with last night.

“It’s very frustrating, they can blame the Munster final replay (against Cork) and everything but they had several free weekends in the season where games could have been played.

“There were three weeks between the Munster senior semi-final and final, why could there not have been a round of county championship played a week after the Munster semi-final?

“We went eight weeks there between championship games and after the All-Ireland final, we played senior club championship, round 3 of the county championship and if we progressed we would have went down the line of more games, which is totally unacceptable.

“It has to be addressed. Teams are losing players, in limbo, and it’s time to look at the whole set-up.

James O’Donoghue and Bryan Sheehan Tempers flare following yesterday's county final between South Kerry and Legion. Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

“Is it an option to start the county League in mid-February and then you have three rounds of county championship played before a Munster final, leaving a maximum of three games to play after the All-Ireland series?

“You could then close down the summer, have local League games and if fellas want to go travelling, they can avail of that time.

“But the calendar has to be set up. My other gripe is the GAA have been harping on about player welfare, player burnout.

“Two young fellas in our club since the All-Ireland final, Conor Geaney and Tom Leo O’Sullivan, have played 12 games of football. Some fellas haven’t played 12 games of football all year.

Conor Geaney celebrates scoring his side's first goal Dingle's Kerry minor star Conor Geaney. Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

“Realistically these fellas are still developing and it’s not fair. It’s an abuse of their capabilities. The whole system is just wrong within the county and this fiasco, I’m afraid the county board have been shown up.

“There’s too much going on. There were players on the county panel that saw no game time and yet they were pulled from teams this year. It’s not good enough, the whole thing is being strangled for the smallest number of players.”

Legion will play Nemo Rangers in the AIB Munster senior club football semi-final next Sunday at Páirc Uí Rinn. The game throws in at 2pm.

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