When Tony Leen reached out to me back in May, just before the intercounty GAA season started, I had no idea what he wanted me for. The Irish Examiner Sports Editor had DMed me asking if I could help him with an article he was writing. When the phone rang the next day, that was as much as I knew.
I answered the call and the question he put to me caught me on the hop. “Is there a kick in your clubmate James O’Donoghue?”
For a brief moment I considered taking evasive action. Going full Peter Keane. “Yerrah, I wouldn’t know much about that kind of thing, Tony. I’ll tell you, we had a neighbour there going back years ago and he used always say…” etc. When you’re a journalist, talking about your own club and your own clubmates is never easy. Say something positive and you’re being biased. Say something negative and you’re being disloyal. Some people can accept that it’s just your job and you’re giving an honest opinion. Others only see things in terms of “agendas” (perhaps because that’s how their own minds operate).
In the end, I didn’t really have time to formulate a masterplan with Tony waiting for my answer, so I told him the truth. James is an unbelievable player. He has shown that he can still do it in the recent past. If he stays injury-free, he will do it again. I said I couldn’t see him packing it in.
I know James reasonably well going back as far as our UL days and while the general public recognise him as someone with a cheeky, devil-may-care attitude towards the game and towards life, there is a fiercely determined side to him as well. Like all great players, he is ultra-competitive and extremely driven. Without ever asking him about it explicitly, I have no doubt whatsover that he desperately wants to get back to the highest level.
Considering how plagued he has been by injuries since that glorious 2014 campaign, he probably would have quit years ago if he didn’t have that appetite to come back in and contribute to the team.
That’s why the news that he was stepping away from the panel came as such a surprise to me. The narrative going around is that he has been forced to make this decision due to those aforementioned injury concerns, but, to the best of my knowledge, he has been injury-free of late. In fact, word on the street is that he did very well in a recent training match prior to the Munster semi-final.
He didn’t make the squad for that trip to Thurles, however, and apparently he also did not feature in a subsequent A versus B game, despite being available for selection. That would appear to have left O’Donoghue as the 13th choice forward on the panel. At best. Supporters might have assumed that his absence from the matchday squad was due to injury, but Peter Keane simply wasn’t picking him. Which, to be fair, is his prerogative as manager.
In my opinion, for whatever that’s worth, you would be very hard-pressed to find two forwards in Kerry who are more talented than James O’Donoghue, let alone 12. A fit O’Donoghue is such a great weapon to have in your arsenal – it’s certainly not one I’d be inclined to leave behind going into battle.
Whether or not this “step away” amounts to an actual retirement in the longer-term remains to be seen. The general feeling in the media and amongst supporters is that he’s done with Kerry for good but personally I think he would have just retired if he wanted to retire. O’Donoghue is 31, which isn’t exactly ancient, and County Board chairman Tim Murphy has spoken of the Killarney man's desire to play some club football "to see could he get some form back and see where that would take him”. He scored 1-2 in 30 minutes for Legion at the weekend. He can still do it if given the opportunity.
O’Donoghue will have plenty of fire in the belly for the upcoming County and Club Championships, that’s for sure. Then again, he always does.
Séamus Moynihan tops Kerry manager poll ahead of Jack O’Connor and Peter Keane
by Adam Moynihan
Although it now appears as though he could be a selector on the Stephen Stack ticket, four-time All-Ireland winner Séamus Moynihan has topped our ‘Next Kerry Manager’ poll by collecting over one-third of the overall vote.
Around 37% of respondents said that Moynihan should be the next Kerry boss with 23% of fans backing former manager Jack O’Connor. The team’s most recent bainisteoir, Peter Keane, received 18% of the votes.
Another former manager, Eamonn Fitzmaurice, is next in line on 10%, although it is believed that he is not willing to return to the fold due to work commitments.
In addition to the four main candidates mentioned above, readers were also invited to nominate their own preferred candidate. This open field threw up 16 more names with former Kerry and Dr Crokes manager Pat O’Shea the most popular entry. The Killarney man received around 3.5% of the vote.
Donie Buckley got roughly half as many votes as O’Shea, and the other prospective managers ended up with less than 1% each.
Glenflesk native Moynihan enjoyed a glittering playing career for The Kingdom between 1992 and 2006, the highlight perhaps coming in the year 2000 when he captained his county to All-Ireland glory. He has since taken on coaching roles with his own club and with Fossa and was part of Darragh Ó Sé’s Kerry U21 management team in 2015.
It had been suggested that Monaghan’s defensive coach Donie Buckley would be part of the Moynihan ticket. Buckley was also a member of Peter Keane’s backroom team, but Keane relieved him of his duties in the early stages of the 2020 season.
However, after this survey was completed, Tony Leen of the Irish Examiner reported that Moynihan and Buckley are, indeed, part of the same ticket, but the manager’s name attached is that of current Killarney Legion boss Stephen Stack.
Stack himself had a long and distinguished playing career with The Kingdom and as a manager led Austin Stacks to the County Championship in 2014 and Legion to an East Kerry Championship in 2019.
The Listowel native is also rumoured to be calling on Dara Ó Cinnéide and Mickey Ned O’Sullivan as selectors, with Joe O’Connor filling the role of strength and conditioning coach.
Stack was not considered to be a realistic candidate at the time of the survey; he was one of the 14 managers who received less than 1% of the vote.
KERRY SUPPORTERS SURVEY
Q: Who should be the next manager of the Kerry senior football team?
Séamus Moynihan 36.7%
Jack O’Connor 23.4%
Peter Keane 18.1%
Eamonn Fitzmaurice 10%
Pat O’Shea 3.5%
Donie Buckley 1.6%
(Carried out online on September 21/22. 431 respondents.)
*Mike Quirke, John Sugrue, Jim McGuinness, Jim Gavin, Jerry O’Sullivan, Maurice Fitzgerald, Tomás Ó Sé, Johnny Crowley, Stephen Stack, Kieran Donaghy, John Evans, Paul Galvin, Marc Ó Sé, Liam Kearns.
Jordan’s new role with St Paul’s
By Sean Moriarty Killarney’s Paralympic hero Jordan Lee is to take on a new role with Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s Killarney Basketball Club. Jordan began his sporting career with the local basketball club where he created history by becoming the first amputee athlete to represent their country at international level. The High Jumper then switched […]
By Sean Moriarty
Killarney’s Paralympic hero Jordan Lee is to take on a new role with Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s Killarney Basketball Club.
Jordan began his sporting career with the local basketball club where he created history by becoming the first amputee athlete to represent their country at international level.
The High Jumper then switched to track and field and qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics where he made history by becoming the first Kerry athlete to act as a flag bearer for an opening ceremony and lead an Irish team into an Olympic Stadium.
Now back home and preparing for the next Olympics in Paris, he has returned to his first love and will join the backroom staff at the local Division One basketball club ahead of their National League campaign which begins next month.
His father Jarlath Lee is head coach with St Paul’s.
“Jordan is joining us as our strength and conditioning coach,” Jarlath told the Killarney Advertiser.
Meanwhile, Scott’s Lakers St Paul’s Killarney Basketball Club National League team will have a distinctive feel to it this year after securing the services of three overseas players it for the season ahead.
The club’s biggest signing is Canadian professional Ben Miller. It was originally hoped that the former two-time Manitoba Player of the Year would play for the local side last season but the pandemic got in the way and the National League was never played. However, he did play two training games this time last year before returning to Canada until travel restrictions lifted.
“He is a good guy, very approachable and very good with the young members,” Jarlath said.
The club has also signed Bulgarian International Emilian Grudov.
The 20-year-old has already represented his home country at U16, 18 and 20 level.
“He is young, athletic and very good offensively,” added Lee.
The returning Lithuanian Dianius Varanaukus completes the club international line up for the 2020/21 season.
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