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PRO GAA Scene December 23rd 2015 2015-12-23 08:08:00

Reviewing a successful year for Kerry teams on the intercounty front
It has been a busy year in both codes on the intercounty front and it’s customary at this time of the year to take a lookback at the season gone by and certainly if thirty or so counties through-out Ireland enjoyed the success that Kerry enjoyed over the last twelve months or so then there is little doubt they would be very happy campers indeed.
However, here in the Kingdom, the pain of the All Ireland defeat to Dublin is still palpable and still very raw and it’s probably not so much the defeat itself rather the fact that very few, if any, of the side played anywhere near their undoubted potential. Days like that do happen of course and you only have to go back a further twelve months for another good example of it when Donegal came unstuck against Kerry and then there is always the argument that you can only play as well as you are let by the opposition on the day. The fact that, with just one exception (Paul Galvin), the entire panel seems to have decided to stay together for another year would seem to suggest a determination to redeem themselves in 2016 and with a fresh approach in training there is no reason why they will not be title contenders next year.
It will be interesting to see how the fresh talent coming through from Minor level will fit into the scheme of things over the next few years. It’s amazing that you wait for twenty years for a Minor title and then you get two of them together! Everyone knew that the class of 2014 were going to be good but little was expected from the 2015 contingent. They made everyone stand up and take notice however after that extra time epic against Cork and very few people who were at that match are likely to forget it in a hurry. Still we have beaten Cork before and come unstuck thereafter but the ease with which this group of players went on to gain all Ireland honours was extraordinary indeed.
Not so long ago I recall a motion from Kerry at Congress to abolish the All Ireland Junior Championship but so long as it does not affect the domestic fixture list it can be a very useful competition especially for players in the Under 23 bracket. This year was a perfect example of that whereby Under 21 players in particular featured prominently in the panel.
Speaking of the Under 21s, they seem to be caught in a situation where they just cannot get past Cork in Munster. It’s six years now since Kerry were successful against their neighbours and while the Rebel county are traditionally strong in this age group, they are not dominating the competition by any means, in fact Cork have not won an All Ireland in this grade during that time. Jack O’Connor could hardly have asked for a better group of players coming through from Minor level and it will be very interesting to watch Kerry’s progress at Under 21 level over the next couple of years or so.
Kerry Hurling on the up
What a year it has been on the Hurling front! We all know that Eamonn Kelly and his backroom team had only one goal in mind this year and that was to bring back the Christy Ring Cup to the Kingdom for the second time. They certainly did that – and with some style too. Meath were the only side to put it up to the Kingdom as they marched on to the semi final where they routed Kildare before going on to record an emphatic victory over Derry in the final. However, by the end of the season Kerry had become a very well oiled machine thanks to their heroics in the Allianz League. Despite shipping a big loss to Westmeath, Kerry made steady progress as the League progressed and when they again faced the midlanders in the Division 2A final, they turned the tables on them in no uncertain fashion. However, the icing on the cake came a week later when, to the surprise of most outside observers, Kerry tore the formbook to shreds when defeating Antrim for the right to play in Division 1A of the League in the coming season.
Competing at a higher level in the League and the Round Robin series of the Leinster Championship will bring its own pressures and the new management team under Ciaran Carey will certainly have a baptism of fire when rubbing shoulders with the likes of Clare, Wexford, Limerick and Offaly – the latter county now of course coached by former Kerry manager Eamonn Kelly! Still that’s where Kerry hurling needs to be if they are to make progress and it will be interesting to say the least to monitor how they compete against some of the country’s top hurlers.
All to look forward to in both codes in the new year!

Over €100,000 in Development Grants for Kerry Clubs
Santa came early for twelve Kerry Clubs and three Schools when over €100,000 in Development garants was presented by Munster Council Chairman Robert Frost at John Mitchel’s complex in Tralee on Monday evening last. The following clubs received the very welcome funding:
St Pats Blennerville €25,870
Beale €16,000
John Mitchels €10,208
Austin Stacks €7,231
Spa €6,942
St Marys €6,150
Beaufort €3,718
Ballydonoghue €3,513
Cordal €3,098
Milltown-Castlemaine €2,376
Dromid Pearses €2,025
Churchill €1,010
Glenderry National School Ballyheigue €5,000
Scoil Iosagain Ballybunion €5,000
Scoil Bhréanainn Portmagee €2,680
In all, just over €1m euro was distributed by the Munster Council between the six Munster counties. Very often we are asked; “What do the Munster Council do with all the money they get from the big championship games and especially the replays?” The answer was plain to be seen at the splendid John Mitchels complex on Monday evening. Our thanks to the host club for the use of their facilities and for the refreshments provided.

Clubs need the Schools!
The important role that schools play in the development of players and by the same token, to the wellbeing of the clubs in their catchment areas, was emphasised in the report of the post primary schools committee to convention recently. Secretary, Willie O’Connor’s observations are worth noting:
“The club need the schools” needs to be emphasised and taken on board by all units of our association. Post Primary Schools restate that the involvement and assistance of local club(s), district boards etc. is now absolutely essential and necessary. Clubs and District boards have a responsibility to assist and liaise with Schools.
A reminder to convention (while appreciating the voluntary input of games teachers) that maintaining the traditional level of gaelic games promotion and participation within post primary schools is under very severe pressure, some schools are merely playing the games schedule with minimal coaching or training taking place, currently we have a relative large school in Kerry without teacher involvement – the school teams dependent on a local volunteer to manage them.
Budgetary constraints on schools management as a result of educational cutbacks are not sufficient to sustain their level of participation, i.e. team transport cost is now a very significant expenditure item for schools plus students are being asked to contribute towards team bus costs.
Timetable constraints on teachers, substitution and supervision demands are now major burdens for schools following implementation of the “Croke Park” and “Haddington Road” agreements. Thus the traditional voluntary contribution and morale of the games masters / teachers has rapidly declined”.

Senior Football League Division 2 Playoffs
Rathmore, John Mitchels, Spa and St Marys have all finished on 15 points in Division 2 of the Credit Union Senior football league so there will be a four way playoff to decide the third side to go up to Division 1 with Templenoe and Kenmare. The draw sees John Mitchels play Rathmore and Spa play St Marys and those games are fixed for Sunday January 10th at present.
Novice Shield Final
Sneem-Derrynane will play Moyvane in the Novice Shield Final following the South Kerry side’s 5-8 to 1-5 over Beale in the semi final last weekend. At the time of going to press no date is available for that game.
Under 21 Club semi finals
The second semi final of the Under 21 Club Cup competition is down for decision on Sunday next 27th when Legion play Annascaul/Lispole/Castlegregory in John Mitchels at 2pm. Dr Crokes have qualifies for the final following their thrilling one point victory over Spa in the East Kerry Under 21 final on Sunday last a game that double up with the county fixture. Final score was 3-12 to 3-11.
The final is fixed for Sunday January 3rd.

Seasons Greetings
On behalf of Kerry GAA may I extend seasons greetings to all our members and supporters both at home and abroad and here’s wishing for a successful year on the playing fields in 2016. We also extend best wishes for a speedy recovery to Patrick Curtin of Moyvane who was injured in an accident while working abroad last week.

Hurling News with Tommy O’Connor of the PR & Marketing Committee

Kerry Senior Hurlers back in action on January 3rd
The Kerry senior hurlers will get back into action on Sunday week, 3rd January with a game against Limerick in the new Munster senior league (formerly the Waterford Crystal Cup). Venue is Kilmallock where there will be a 2.00p.m. throw in. Each of the Munster counties, excepting Tipperary, will play in this pre-season competition. Kerry’s first home game will be against Cork on Sunday, 10th January at Fitzgerald Stadium, 12.45p.m.
They will play Clare in Sixmilebridge on Wednesday, 13th at 7.30p.m. and the last game in the league will be at home to Waterford in Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday, 24th at 2.00p.m.
Minor Leagues
Kilmoyley got a walkover on Saturday last from Ballyheigue in the final of Division 1B of the co. minor hurling league in a very unsatisfactory conclusion to the competition. Ballyheigue in fairness notified the Board in advance that they would not be able to fulfil the fixture.
The Division 1A final between Lixnaw and Crotta also remains to be played.
Hurling history
The book ‘North Kerry – a hurling history’ is on sale locally for €20 at the following shops: Moriarty’s Post Office, Ballyheigue; Powers, Dillane’s and the Post Office, Abbeydorney; O’Mahony’s Bookshop, Castle Street, Tralee; Foley’s Gala Express, Lixnaw; Lerrig Stores, Kilmoyley; Horgan’s Centra, Ardfert; Woulfe’s Bookshop, Listowel; Ross’s Centra and Sheehy’s, Ballyduff; Flynn’s, Leahy’s and the Post Office in Causeway and Polymath Bookshop, Courthouse Lane, Tralee. Any enquiries from tocatp1@gmail.com or 087-9706162. Thanks to all who have supported the book to date.