KERRY GAA Chairman Tim Murphy has emphatically rejected a suggestion that there might have been a conflict of interest on the five-man sub-committee tasked to select a new Kerry senior football team manager.
At a meeting of the county committee on Zoom this Monday night, at which Jack O’Connor was formally ratified, former East Kerry Chairman, Tim Ryan, pointed to the fact than one of the five-man selection team had previously served as a selector with Jack O’Connor while another had played under him.
“Surely there was a conflict of interest and, I would have imagined, those names shouldn’t have remained on that five-man committee,” he said.
Ryan asked if the committee was satisfied that the outgoing senior management team was treated fairly since the Tyrone game and he asked if the selection committee had considered the views of the players before making a decision?
“From where I stand, it was a bit of a shambles. It was all over the place.
“It was as bad as the Dáil with leaks. Everything was coming out about what was happening and who was in the race. There are a lot of questions out there that need to be answered about the whole situation,” Ryan said.
A number of delegates criticised the way the entire process was handled with Christy O’Connell of Peter Keane’s hometown club, St Mary’s in Caherciveen, expressing “deep disappointment” at the manner in which the outgoing manager and his team were treated.
“The methodology and its timing leave many questions unanswered. The business of this board should be carried out in an impartial way, transparent and open,” he said, asking if the manner in which the matter was handled could lead to a perception that there was bias in the process?
“We feel strongly that our two club members, Peter Keane and Maurice Fitzgerald, and their colleagues, were treated in a disrespectful way. It is universally accepted among the GAA fraternity that this issue has been dealt with in a most unsatisfactory manner,” Mr O’Connell said.
Listowel Emmets delegate David O’Brien said the whole thing “smacks of a conflict of interest” and he said the talk of the county is that it wasn’t open and transparent.
Linus Burke of Milltown/Castlemaine said it could appear that it was a done deal when one of the candidates was in another position and resigned from it and people in Kildare were saying that Jack O’Connor would get the Kerry job.
“It’s looks a bit like there might have been a conflict of interest and everything wasn’t as transparent as it seems. If you look at it from the outside that’s what it looks like,” he stated.
East Kerry Board Chairman, Johnny Brosnan, said people all over the county are unhappy, angry, upset and annoyed with the way Peter Keane was treated after all the years he had given to the Kerry GAA.
Ken O’Sullivan of Beaufort said the entire process didn’t appear to be transparent and it didn’t serve Kerry very well while Listry chairman Jerome Kennedy said it appeared that there was a “three strikes and you’re out” approach adopted and asked for Peter Keane to be given another chance because he is best positioned to deal with the job.
He said Keane has a three-year term but he only got a year and two half years because of the interruptions caused by the pandemic.
A statement from the Laune Rangers club, read out at the meeting, maintained that the appointment of the Kerry management team was completely mishandled and fell well short of what is expected from the GAA in Kerry.
In a lengthy response, Chairman Tim Murphy said the five-man committee set up to choose a new manager was mandated by the county executive and he insisted that Peter Keane was treated with complete respect at all times.
The outgoing manager was kept fully informed that there would be a competitive process for the job and while he indicated that he was happy with that, he asked that the matter be dealt with expeditiously and not allowed to drag on.
He said Keane was interviewed and made “a fantastic presentation” to the selection committee but the county executive had also asked for other interested parties to be considered and two other groups were interviewed.
“In relation to being disrespectful, I totally reject that. I think it’s being very unfair on me as the county chairman, on the four other persons on the selection committee and on the county executive. We did everything humanly possible in the circumstances we found ourselves in to respect Peter and to give him every opportunity to put his case forward,” he said.
Murphy said in order to make an informed and objective assessment, the views of the county executive, those of the clubs of the county and the views of the Kerry senior players were all considered before a decision was made.
“I’m not going to discuss what they said or they didn’t say. All those communications, from everyone, were treated in the utmost confidence,” he said.
The chairman said he rejected the conflict of interest comments “wholeheartedly”.
“Everyone on that committee were people of the highest integrity and they have the utmost respect around the county. Everybody, no matter where you go in the GAA, has some connection with somebody and to try to make an inference that there is a conflict of interest I would reject as totally out of hand and erroneous.
“I can stand over the integrity of these people and everything we did, from start to finish, and I stake my own reputation on that,” the chairman stated
On the matter of leaks to the media and material appearing on social media, Mr Murphy said that matter was completely outside of his control.
“I can categorically state that no leak of any description came from out group, our committee, at any stage during the process and I can state that without fear of contradiction. It was one of the most tightly-knit groups that I was ever part of,” he added.
“To make an inference or a suggestion that leaks came from our group is another erroneous claim and it’s something that is driven by factors outside of our group and outside of our control,” Murphy stated.
He said he found it very disheartening and very disconcerting that people would actually believe that people with the integrity of those on the five-man selection committee would sully the reputation of the Kerry GAA in any way, shape or form.
“I think it’s disgraceful and I think it’s the lowest of the low,” he added.
After Jack O’Connor was ratified – without a vote being taken – the chairman read out a lengthy statement which thanked Peter Keane and his selectors for their contribution to the Kerry GAA over many years.
Former Laois manager Mike Quirke (Kerins O’Rahillys) and former Kerry selector Diarmuid Murphy (Dingle) were ratified as Kerry selectors but, the meeting heard, Jack O’Connor still hasn’t finalised his backroom team.