A RURAL GAA club has appealed to its Catholic diocese to engage in "peace talks" regarding the sale of land adjoining its sports grounds.
In a letter to the Bishop of Kerry, Kilgarvan GAA club said it hoped he would be "guided by the man above" and reverse the decision to sell the land to a private individual and not the club.
The diocese shocked the local community when it announced at weekend Masses in the parish that it had decided to sell the old presbytery and 13.5 acres for €258,000.
The GAA had hoped to acquire the land to develop its facilities. "We've not brought out the machine guns yet but there is no deal until it's signed, sealed and delivered," club chairman Tom Randles told the Irish Independent yesterday.
The club has been at loggerheads with the church over the sale which has been dubbed 'The Field' locally.
The row has already sparked a public meeting which called on other interested parties to withdraw their offers.
In February, an offer in excess of €255,000 was made for the property that was originally put on the market at €230,000.
The GAA had offered €205,000 -- a significant increase on the €50,000 it had offered St Brendan's Trust -- the legal entity that owns diocesan property -- to purchase nine acres last June.
Mr Randles said the club had written to the Bishop of Kerry Bill Murphy, St Brendan's Trust and parish priest Donal O'Neill appealing for a change of heart.
The letter asks them "not to let down the youth of the parish and the community".
"It is not too late as the decision is yours. We trust in the man above that you will reconsider your present position," the letter states.
Mr Randles said he had tried to contact the bishop yesterday but was unable to do so.
"We will be making a stronger statement but there's not a war at present and we're still hoping for peace talks," he said.
Last night, Bishop Murphy declined to comment further on the controversy.
A statement on the diocese's website said it was "obliged to attain the market value of the property" and sell to the highest bidder.
The statement said the entire amount achieved would be available to the parish for its development.
Auctioneer and former Kerry footballer Tom Spillane handled the sale.