Festive football is on the menu for Christmas

Christmas may be just around the corner, but football is set to continue throughout the festive season.

Christmas may be just around the corner, but football is set to continue throughout the festive season.

With Christmas Day falling on Thursday this year, the Kilkenny & District League have decided to play on throughout Yule time.

The move was made in order to maximise the number of weekends available to the League, who are trying to avoid a fixture backlog at the end of the campaign.

The junior season will have a full round of games on the weekend of December 27 and 28, a move which is being repeated at schoolboy and schoolgirl levels, which traditionally would have provided a festive break.

“There is a real risk that we could lose weekends to bad weather in January and February, so with that in mind we will have games throughout Christmas,” schoolboys’ fixtures secretary Paschal Bergin told delegates at the League’s committee meeting.

While there will be no matches for the under-8 to under-10 groups the remaining schoolboys and schoolgirls leagues will continue.

With the sport showing a continuous rise in popularity, the League are urging clubs to play their part to ensure games are played on time.

The meeting also heard that moves are afoot to prevent games from being scrapped at the last minute or changes made to the schedule.

“Leagues are getting bigger and bigger each year,” Mr Bergin added.

“We are trying to balance home and away fixtures every week for clubs, but with fixtures being changed at the last minute it is making things difficult.

“We have decided that, from now on, once fixtures are posted on our website they will not be changed unless there is a referee or pitch issue.

“We need to be more professional,” he added. “We need to have everything in order. If we fall behind too far we may have to look at cancelling free weekends from March onwards, otherwise we’ll be playing competitions up to July.”

The League have also made a move to avoid a pile-up of games in certain competitions. The Schoolboys’ Council meeting heard of a problem with a number of divisions across the under-13, 14, 15 and 17 leagues.

Competitions to be revamped are at under-13 league division two, under-14 league division two level and the under-15 league, all of which have ten teams each, and the under-16 and 17 leagues, which have 11 teams apiece.

With a massive number of league and cup games still to be played across the five competitions - the most any team has played is six league games from the arranged 18 matches - it was proposed to divide each group into two once the first round of league games has been played.

Rather than play each team a second time, the competitions will now be divided into two, cutting down on the number of games each side has to play and reducing the risk of a major delay as the Summer months loom.

A proposal on such a move was put to the floor and passed unanimously.

Gaynor Cup

The Kilkenny & District League will not have an under-16 team at the 2015 Gaynor Cup.

Their absence from next year’s competition was confirmed at the council meeting. The decision was made by the league committee, who cited rising costs and a lack of WFAI grant assistance, among their reasons for the decision.

News of the withdrawal drew a mixed reaction from the floor, with some delegates citing the team’s recent successes in the inter-league competition as a reason why the girls should be allowed to play next year.

Kilkenny were beaten in the Gaynor Cup semi-finals in 2013, while the Cats won the Gaynor Plate in 2014, beating Sligo/Leitrim 4-0 in the decider.

The League announced they would try a different approach to girls’ inter-league soccer, starting back with an under-12 team which will work its way up in future.

Child Welfare

Clubs were reminded that anyone involved with under-age teams must have their child welfare courses completed by December 31.

Further information on the courses is available from the League’s welfare officer, Berni Egan, tel 087-9884535.

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.