Football

'This is really stupid that this thing exists' | Kerry captaincy debate

Ryan Clarke
Ryan Clarke

15:43 4 Feb 2020

When David Clifford was selected to captain Kerry by his own club, it reopened the debate surrounding one of the GAA’s most intriguing idiosyncrasies. 

The tradition, of the county champions choosing the county captain, is now only used by Kerry and Kilkenny - both sides being the most successful teams in their respective codes.

However, a motion to consign this selection process to history was defeated after it didn't get the required two-thirds majority despite winning by 50 votes to 48.

Speaking on Tuesday’s OTB AM hosts Ger Gilroy and Eoin Sheahan debated the merits and pitfalls of how captains are chosen in Kerry and Kilkenny.

“I have a strong suspicion that it is broken and that this has not only not benefitted Kerry over the last few years but proved to be a distraction.

“This is really stupid that this thing exists, that clubs don’t trust Peter Keane to select the captain of the team,” the Kerry native said.

Eoin added, “I’m all for giving a young person the opportunity to captain a team - I would’ve been all for James Ryan captaining Ireland. This is a fantastic opportunity for David Clifford, but that does not mean it is the right selection process.”

One line of criticism that this selection process attracts is that it sometimes produces captains who may not be one of the first names on the team sheet.

Ger Gilroy rejected this line of criticism, pointing to the fact that both counties who employ this method are the most successful in hurling and football.

“We’ve actually seen Kilkenny and Kerry have players captain All-Ireland-winning teams who weren’t in the team.

“So the captaincy is actually completely irrelevant. What we’re trying to do is imbue it with this weird sense of, ‘oh you’re a Setanta, you’re a Chú Chulainn, you are the only leader this team can get behind.’

“In a weird way, it cannot be a coincidence that the two teams that have been most successful in hurling and football are sitting there going, ‘let’s just see who the leaders are. Let’s see them evolve and develop and work with them,’” Ger said.

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All-ireland Championship David Clifford Eoin Sheahan Football GAA Ger Gilroy Hurling Kerry Kilkenny Otb Am

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