THE pastings suffered by Kilkenny in the two O'Byrne Cup games in recent weeks proves nothing about the state of the game in the county. The Cats may be the laughting stock on the football scene having been beaten by a combined total of 47 points in those two matches, but the county is capable of much better.
"What happened against Offaly and DIT is not a reflection of football in Kilkenny," insisted star forward, David Herity, the top scorer in Sunday's O'Byrne Cup Shield (losers group) defeat against DIT.
Could have serious team
"It is a reflection of part of the game in Kilkenny, nothing more," added the Kilmoganny clubman.
Herity, scorer of six points against DIT, said it was easy to knock and put down football in the county.
"If the Kilkenny hurling team went out without half the players who were good enough to be on it, how would it fare," asked the St Patrick's College (Drumcondra) student, a one time member of the hurling squad.
"There are a lot of good footballers in Kilkenny, and if they bothered they would make a huge difference. We could have a serious team."
The 22-year-old is training to be a teacher at St Pat's, and he has been getting a fair bit of football recently. It showed, and his touch, kicking and running game were all in a different class to his colleagues, most of whom haven't played for months, apart from the Offaly game the previous weekend.
"The people who play football are committed, and they like the game," David went on. "We have pride in the jersey. We have pride in playing for our county.
"When we pull on the jersey we know what it entails. It is not something to be laughed at.
"The enthusiasm is there for the game," he continued. "It is unfortunate we can't get the numbers interested. There are lots of good footballers around. We could have a useful squad, a serious team."
Herity was well aware of the general view of Kilkenny football, which was far from flattering. When he tells college colleagues he is heading off to play football with the county the smirking and joking begins.
"Some think I am mad," he laughed. "But I know that given half a chance, most of them would love to be able to play with their county, at any level.
"I am representing my county, and I am proud of that. I would think everyone should be proud to do that."
David, who is a fair hurler too, can't understand why people turn their back on football in the county.
He makes himself available, yet he knows the odds are stacked against the county making any sort of a decent impression. Until a settled squad can be assembled, and the players can train together and get to know each others game, things won't change, he reckoned.
"If you go out every day with a different XV you won't ever have a proper team," he argued. "Kilkenny can make progress, but the players have to make themselves available."
The Leinster Council has taken steps to give Kilkenny meaningful competition at a level that should suit them. During the coming weeks a mini-Leinster football league involving Kilkenny, St Patrick's College, Tallaght IT and Trinity College will be introduced.
The games will be played in under lights in mid-week, most likely at neutral venues.
"We are guaranteed three games, which should help us," explained Kilkenny Football Board chairman, Tommy Duggan. "This league has been introduced to more or less help us, and it could lead to us returning to the Football League proper."
Kilkenny have been arguing for ages for the return of the old 'League format, whereby there would be Divisions I, 2, 3 and 4. Their aim would be to participate in Division 4.
"We are not fooling ourselves, we know that would be our level," Mr Duggan added.