KILKENNY have put themselves in line for a nice financial windfall by qualifying for the closing stages of the Allianz National Hurling League.
Sunday’s stunning victory over Galway at Nowlan Park, which earned the All-Ireland champions passage through to the semi-finals, could be worth over €40,000 to the County Board.
The latter stages of the League are where counties make the big money that can carry them through most of the year.
And now for the second season on the trot the Cats can look forward to rich pickings from the competition.
“The important thing for the progress of the team was that we qualified for the semi-finals,” said County Board secretary, Ned Quinn, who confirmed Kilkenny were now in the big money making area of the League.
“There will be considerable financial gain for the county, but with a busy season anticipated, and hopefully the Dunmore project on the way, the money will be put to good use.”
The ‘Dunmore project’ is the development of two full size playing pitches, one with floodlights, four dressing rooms, showers and other ancilliary facilities including car parking on a new site close the the Recyling Centre a few miles North East of the city. The green light is expected from the planners shortly for a development that will cost close to a million euro.
Last year Kilkenny earned nearly 127,000 euro from the National Leagues, hurling and football. The hurlers qualified for the final in which they were beaten by Dublin, yet their share of the League pot was close to 110,000 euro.
Had they won the competition, Kilkenny’s returns would have been considerably greater.
The county didn’t make the final the previous year. Consequently the hurlers’ earnings dropped back, to around 79,000 euro, which was still decent money.
However, getting to the semis, and definitely the final, can make a huge difference for cash strapped County Boards.
County championship gates remain the biggest earner for the County Board – 243,000 euro last year and 208,500 euro the season before – but a good League campaign can bring in money at a financially draining time in the season when the flow of cash is all one way.
While the League programme was reduced from seven to five qualifying rounds this season, thereby reducing potential earnings, the weather proved to be much better than normal and big crowds at games have helped reduced possible losses.
With five attractive and crowd pulling teams left in the running for the title – Tipperary, Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick and Clare – the potential for a bonanza finish is there.
Tipperary and Cork face each other in the semi-finals in Semple Stadium, Thurles on Sunday, April 22 (4pm). On the same day and at the same venue (2pm), Kilkenny tackle the winners between Limerick and Clare, who play the Division 1B final this weekend.
No. 1 priority
Kilkenny have always insisted that the championship was their No. 1 priority. They saw prolonged involvement in the League as ideal preparations for the summer competition, and they will try and win it without pushing themselves too hard.
The squad took a break for two weeks after Sunday’s match. The players returned to their clubs for training in preparation for the local leagues which commence on the weekend of April 28/29.
The panel will get back together again the week before the semi-finals, and if need be will remain in training until the League finishes.
Meanwhile, the full extent of Richie Hogan’s injuries after Sunday’s horrific clash with the Galway goalie has been revealed. The in-form Danesfort attacker broke two ribs and suffered a perforated and collapsed lung.
The extent of the injuries was worse than feared. He will definitely miss the rest of the League campaign, and he could be sidelined for weeks after that.
Tomorrow night (Thursday) the County Board will launch the 30th version of the Piltown C0-Op draw, which is a huge money maker for clubs and the ’Board.
County team manager, Brian Cody, will do the honours. The draw has been revamped and there will be an extra bonus draw for a holiday at the finish.
Clubs earn 50% of the money if they sell a specific allocation of tickets, and anything over and above that earns them bonus returns.
Tickets cost 50 euro each for the six draws. The launch will be in the Springhill Hotel (9pm).
The Hurling League Roinn 1B tie between Wexford and Laois (2pm) and the Roinn 2A game between Carlow and Westmeath (4pm) have been fixed for Nowlan Park on Saturday.