Killeagh manager feels clubs should get priority when hurling season resumes

Killeagh manager feels clubs should get priority when hurling season resumes
Daniel Hickey of Killeagh/Ita's pulls away from the challenge of Fr O'Neill's Conor Lee during the U21 Premier 1 hurling championship last season. Picture: Howard Crowdy

CLUBS throughout Cork city and county are in limbo, completely in the dark as to when the GAA playing season might start up again.

Killeagh are one of those, an established senior club now for some time.

Team manager is Niall Crowley, a member of a great GAA family.

Na Piarsaigh manager Neil O'Connor and team captain Kyle Power with Killagh/Ita's captain Jack O'Rourke and manager Niall Crowley before the 2016 minor decider. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Na Piarsaigh manager Neil O'Connor and team captain Kyle Power with Killagh/Ita's captain Jack O'Rourke and manager Niall Crowley before the 2016 minor decider. Picture: Howard Crowdy

He has presided over the senior squad for the past 15 months or so and already this season he has been at the helm for a number of league games until the whole thing shuddered to a halt.

The gates of the East Cork club are now padlocked, all activity ceased. So is there anything that can be done during this lockdown?

“Well, firstly, there is no training whatsoever, no group gatherings or anything like that, it’s not allowed and we absolutely abide by that,” Crowley told The Echo.

“The players are doing things on their own, we have a WhatsApp group and the communication is done through that.

“The players have been given a programme to keep them fit, that’s done through my son Colm and our fitness trainer Ciaran O’Brien.

“There’s only so much that you can do in the situation we are in but we are trying to keep things going.

“The players can sharpen up their skills if they have a facility at home, a back wall or something like that. It’s hard but the same situation applies to all the clubs, we are all in the same boat.

“I suppose the uncertainty of it all is the big thing, we don’t know how long this will last and when we can get back together again.”

Crowley believes that the current format in Cork, the round-robin that was introduced at the start of the year, might have to be looked at.

“The longer this goes on the more difficult it will be to run off the SHC in the round-robin format.

“We were all looking forward to that but you just don’t know. If that can’t be done we may have to go back to a straight knockout for this season, whatever happens we will have to go along with it, for all of us it’s a waiting game.”

A suggestion has been made that the provincial club championships might have to be scrapped this season and the Killeagh boss believes that might make sense.

“It’s still early in the year but I think the priority will be to play the local championships and see what happens after that.

“The season could run on into December because pitches now are generally very good and I think it would make sense too to start up the clubs before the inter-county because there are more players involved and you’d have smaller crowds too.

“Hopefully, we will get everything done but it’s a wait and see for everybody now.”

Killeagh have been included in a group that includes Cloyne, Kanturk, and Newcestown in the new format, nothing easy there, he believes. 

“It’s a tough group but we are looking forward to it if it goes ahead that way. Obviously, the local derby with Cloyne would be huge while Newcestown are a proven side, always a tough team to get past.

“Kanturk too have a lot of quality in their side so it’s a tough group. We have a few league games under the belt, beating Na Piarsaigh and losing to Charleville and the ‘Barrs.

“We have lost a few players in recent times but we have a nice mix of young and more experienced players and we’d be hopeful."

Killeagh GAA Club had five players on the victorious Midleton CBS team who won the Dr Harty Cup, here with Killeagh manager Niall Crowley.
Killeagh GAA Club had five players on the victorious Midleton CBS team who won the Dr Harty Cup, here with Killeagh manager Niall Crowley.

Meanwhile, and on a very sad note, the Killeagh club was in mourning this week at the passing of club stalwart, Sean Murphy.

Murphy has given a lifetime of service to the East Cork club, serving in many positions and being an integral part of what the club stood for.

“Everybody in Killeagh and the wider East Cork community is very saddened by the passing of Sean,” Crowley told the Echo.

“He was one of our great clubmen, alongside Junior Scully. Up to very recently Sean was our East Cork board representative as he had been for many years. 

"You could say that he gave his all for the Killeagh club. The club was everything to him, he worked tirelessly for it, oversaw so many developments in the club down the years.

“When the club went from junior to intermediate he was delighted and so proud when we went up senior.

“When Mark Landers and Joe Deane were starring for Cork he was so proud of them and a person like Sean Murphy’s contribution to a club cannot be measured.

“He’s a huge loss to the Killeagh club because he did so much for it down the years.”

Another Killeagh club stalwart, Tommy Seward, told the Echo that there was no one like Sean.

“He was one of the club’s great clubmen, he was the East Cork board representative since 1963. He was chairman here in the early 70s and presided over so many developments in the club.

“He will be a huge loss and sadly missed by everyone who came in contact with him,” he said.

Those sentiments will be echoed throughout East Cork and further beyond. He was Killeagh through and through and it’s people like him who enrich every club the length and breadth of Ireland

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