THEIR league campaign may have made headlines for all the wrong reasons, but Kilkenny have no intention of pulling the plug on inter-county football.
“We’re not going to walk away from the sport,” was the defiant message from Tom Brennan, chairman of the county football board. “There are plenty of people interested in Gaelic football in Kilkenny.”
The 2012 National Football League Division Four campaign came to a close with a loss to Clare over the Easter weekend. The 2-29 to 1-4 defeat meant the Cats ended the competition without a point from their eight group games - the fourth season in a row they have drawn a blank in the competition.
Kilkenny last tasted league victory when they beat London in 2008, the year they rejoined the NFL after a lengthy absence. Despite this Brennan is convinced that football has a future in the county.
“The last few years have been difficult,” he said. “It’s not easy when you’re losing games by big margins, but we’re not going to pull out.
“The first few years were good; we had some promising players there such as David Herity and Michael Grace, but they were called up to the senior hurling squad,” he said.
“It’s hard to get lads committed when they’re all playing club hurling. Last weekend most of the clubs had hurling matches, such as challenge games on Good Friday, where some of our lads played and got injured.”
“Going back a number of years when Nickey Brennan was manager we won a series of games in Division Four, beating the likes of Carlow and Waterford,” said Brennan, who was also a selector. “At that time we were very competitive, but since then a lot of counties have moved on - they have stepped it up a gear.
While there was doubt about Kilkenny’s future league involvement, there are no concerns when it comes to the various championships. The county will be competing in Leinster this year, with the minors lining out against Offaly this Friday in Ballyragget.
“League is one thing, but the championship is a different ball game,” finished Brennan.
Meanwhile the Co Board have been given the green light to begin work on their new training grounds at Dunmore.
The project got the go-ahead after the four-week deadline for objections passed late last week. Based on the former landfill site, the new development will have two pitches, including one with floodlights, as well as four dressing-rooms, a referee’s room and parking facilities.
“It’s been a seven-year journey to get here,” said Co Board secretary Ned Quinn, who has been a driving force of the project. “We wanted a place in the environs of the city. It’s just a mile from the end of the Ring Road. We’re very grateful to the local authorities for making that land available and making this plan possible.”
The project is expected to cost E1.2 million. With the majority of funding already secured, the Co Board will have to come up with 10% of the overall costs.