Munster Senior League's John Finnegan on what it takes to run a packed season of local soccer in Cork 

It was a positive year for the MSL, especially after Covid delays, but the abuse of referees is one issue they're keen to tackle next season
Munster Senior League's John Finnegan on what it takes to run a packed season of local soccer in Cork 

Carrigaline United's Caleb O'Connell wins the ball from Blarney United's Robert McAuliffe during the MSL Beamish Stout Junior Super Cup final at Turner's Cross. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

FINALLY, a full season has been completed in the MSL after two campaigns disrupted due to Covid.

When work and socialising was on hold, sport was the only outlet for many. This year the Munster Senior League celebrate their centenary and what better way to kick it off with a superb season that saw many highs along the way.

Chairman John Finnegan and the Munster Senior League committee continue to work hard to make their leagues among the most competitive in the country.

“Next week’s John Hayes Trophy final will end our season in what has been a very entertaining and competitive year. All league winners will receive centenary medals as part of our Centenary celebrations this year.”

There are 10 leagues throughout the MSL: senior premier, first, second, and third divisions, junior premier, first, second, third, and fourth tiers, along with a floodlit O35 competition.

To keep so many leagues running as smoothly as they do takes a lot of hard work and commitment from many people and for Finnegan, it’s down to the excellent committee.

“I’m now the longest-serving member having 20 years served. First as fixture secretary and presently chairman. However, it certainly does take the work of many people to oversee all the leagues. We have an incredible committee that work very well and complement each other very positively.

“The strength of the league is reflected in the calibre of administrators we have. We now have 11 members on our committee after the recent untimely passing of our president Tony Murphy, who was an outstanding servant to the league.

“As chairman, I am grateful to all the work done by the committee. There’s a lot of work off the pitch that people may not see, but only for this, leagues couldn’t run as smoothly as they do.”

Tom Fitzgerald, Cork AUL, received a presentation from John Finnegan, Munster Senior League, at the Cork AUL 75th anniversary celebration at the Metropole Hotel. Picture: David Creedon
Tom Fitzgerald, Cork AUL, received a presentation from John Finnegan, Munster Senior League, at the Cork AUL 75th anniversary celebration at the Metropole Hotel. Picture: David Creedon

Rockmount ran out deserving winners in the premier senior division, but it was their victory in the FAI Intermediate Cup that was a stand-out moment for Finnegan.

“It’s been a great year with some incredibly competitive games. Rockmount winning the Centenary Intermediate Cup was a stand-out moment for all involved in Cork football. It was also great to see players getting recognition with inclusion in the Irish amateur team also.

“Avondale juniors also had a great run in the Munster Junior Cup which was a positive also for Cork football. So while it has been a positive season overall, there has been some distractions for the committee off the pitch, in which they are working hard to improve for the coming season.”

There have been issues too.

“Worrying development has been the alarming rate of abuse, verbal and physical, which we experienced post-pandemic. In particular abuse of committee members has risen significantly and is something we won’t tolerate going forward. Our committee members are volunteers and the lack of respect is alarming.

“All sport is competitive and to be enjoyed but we are concerned about recent events at some grounds. The league will be very strong on any behaviour which tarnishes our reputation.

We are also lobbying for the introduction of a generic rule book for all amateur leagues within the FAI. We find the present disciplinary process weak from the league’s perspective.

“So while the season has ended we are presently working towards our AGM. We have presented a new player insurance initiative to clubs at a recent meeting which will be decided on at the meeting. Importance of player insurance is now a major issue for us and our committee has been proactively working on this over the last few months.”

STABILITY

There will be no new teams next season as the committee made a decision to reassess structures within the league in consultation with the clubs.

“Presently we have 35 intermediate teams and views are being assessed for the best way forward for us to continually improve our league. We also hope to work with other Leagues in the Cork area as part of an overall strategy going forward. Our junior section continues to grow where we now cater for 46 teams presently so the future is bright for the MSL.

“Centenary celebrations will continue right throughout the year with the centenary dinner dance on November 19 in Rochestown Park Hotel which promises to be a great evening.”

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