Killarney high jumper Jordan Lee talks to Adam Moynihan about adapting his training regime during the shutdown and his thoughts on the Paralympic Games being moved to 2021.
Well Jordan, how’s the lockdown going for you? Is it challenging to train and keep fit at the moment?
It’s okay. I’ve kind of adapted everything that I have around me to suit my own training regime. I’m staying in my father’s house at the Brehon Apartments in Killarney and I’m very grateful to have access to the Gleneagle Pitch & Putt course, which is literally right on my doorstep.
I can do very technical high jumping drills on the grass, I can do hill sprints, I can do tempo runs… I can do lots of different things there.In terms of gym work, I’ve been using two wheelie bins as a squat rack. My two main lifts in the gym would be the Bulgarian split squat and quarter squat so if I wasn’t able to do those and actually jump over a bar all at once, all of my explosive power would go dramatically and very quickly. I’ve also got my own Olympic bar, a couple of dumbbells, and a med ball, so there’s a wide variety of things I can do.
I’m actually doing alright to be honest. The only thing I can’t replicate obviously is jumping over a bar, but I’m managing away.
On a personal level, how are you finding being at home all the time?
The hardest thing really is that I normally live with my mother (Mary Buckley), my stepfather (Dermot Buckley) and my younger brothers and sisters in Killorglin but we made the decision that it would be best for everybody if I stayed in Killarney for the time being. We were cautious of me going out training, getting the coronavirus and spreading it to other people in the family.
That’s one of the sacrifices I’ve had to make – I haven’t been able to see my mother or my stepfather or my younger brothers and sisters. But it had to be done because I have to get my training in.
I’m finding that the days are going by pretty fast. I have two sessions a day. When I get up in the morning I always start off by doing my usual core routine and stretching, then I might do a couple of 8x40m hill sprints and I follow that up with a gym session. Then I go for a jog down to the lake, which is 1.5km away, and I come back and do my recovery work which would take an hour and a half. So, realistically, I’m getting five to six hours of training in a day.
That’s taking up a lot of my time but apart from training, I’ve been playing a good bit of PlayStation. And Facetiming a couple of friends - I’d be lost without that.
You had been preparing for the Paralympics in Tokyo in August but they’ve now been pushed back to 2021 because of COVID-19. What did you make of that decision?
It was something that I kind of expected so when the announcement was made, I wasn’t surprised to be honest with you. It’s completely understandable that the games have to be pushed back. People’s safety has to come first.
Obviously it’s disappointing, but I’m looking at the positives. I have an extra year to train and to get better and improve myself.
That was my next question. Could the extra year actually end up benefiting you in the long run? Because, although you’ve already achieved an awful lot, you’re still relatively new to the sport.
Definitely. I agree. Look, what I’ve been saying is that it’s a new date, but the mission remains the same.
Any message or advice for people on how to get through this difficult time?
I put up an Instagram post on St Patrick’s Day and what I said was, “We can’t control the situation but what we can control is the way in which we react to it”. This will all pass by at some stage. Keep that positive mindset that we’ll all get through it together. We just have to stay patient and trust the process.
Pic: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile.
Killarney girls prepared for Munster final duel
U16 Munster League Final
Killarney RFC v Ennis
Saturday at 1pm
The Killarney RFC U16 girls’ team are heading for Limerick today (Saturday) hoping to cap a magnificent season with a trophy.
This talented group of players, many of whom are new to the sport, have taken on all comers en route to the decider and now Ennis stand between them and provincial glory.
Even reaching the final is a great achievement for the Aghadoe-based club. Coach Diarmuid O’Malley says his charges will need to find “another level” to get over the line.
“We have seen [Ennis] play on a couple of occasions this season and what’s clear is that they have being together for many years,” O’Malley said. “We again will need to step it up to another level in order to be able to compete effectively against them.
“I look back on the success of the Limerick hurling team when they reached the All-Ireland final in 2018, not many gave them much of a chance at the time. The common theme was that “it’s a young team and their time will come”. They not only took the opportunity in 2018 but have since won three out of the last four All-Irelands.
“Finals are all about being present, patient and taking your opportunity, and not letting the occasion get to you. These girls have a great approach to everything they have done in the most challenging environment this year in the current global circumstances.
“It’s going to be one hell of a battle against a very good Ennis team and they are very much favoured to win, but nothing is beyond this capable bunch of Killarney girls.”
If Killarney are to cause an upset, their defence will be key.
“We have had a phenomenal run to get to the final and all through the journey the girls have not compromised on the quality of the rugby they are playing. The most pleasing aspect of our semifinal win against Bruff was keeping them to zero as we have put huge emphasis on our defence all season.
“We will very much approach the final versus Ennis in the same way.”
100 days of Jack O’Connor
Our sports editor Adam Moynihan analyses the first 100 days of Jack O’Connor’s third spell as Kerry manager.
The McGrath Cup isn’t exactly the acid test – it has been distinctly alkaline so far, truth be told – but Jack O’Connor’s feet are now firmly beneath his desk. It’s hard to believe but he has already put down his first 100 days as Kerry’s manager. I think that gives us the green light to start analysing the poor man to within an inch of his life, as is the custom in these parts.
Kerry have played just two preseason games during O’Connor’s third stint but there is still plenty to pore over. (And if there wasn’t we’d find something, says you.)
Going back as far as Day 1, and even before that, there was significant controversy surrounding his appointment. O’Connor was officially ratified on October 4 but he appeared to publicly flirt with the idea of returning to The Kingdom on an Irish Examiner podcast in August. Some people felt that this was disrespectful to Peter Keane – Kerry had just been knocked out of the championship by Tyrone – and O’Connor later admitted that his comments were “naïve”.
However, I wouldn’t personally go along with this idea that Jack O’Connor ought to have been more mindful of Peter Keane in this situation. The two were competitors in a very competitive field and Keane was technically no longer the Kerry manager after the Tyrone defeat because his term was up. If a journalist asks Jack O’Connor if there is an “allure”, why should he lie and say there isn’t?
The interview process that followed drew sharp criticism in some quarters, particularly amongst Keane supporters, because there was a perception that O’Connor was the preferred candidate before he, Keane and Stephen Stack were interviewed. So what if he was? Complete impartiality is impossible in this kind of scenario. The candidates are known to the board, so some sort of bias is inevitable.
That doesn’t mean they were wrong to meet with Keane and Stack. If Keane was turfed out without getting the chance to make his case, his supporters would have been livid over that as well. There is no nice way to lose a job, particularly one that is as prestigious and coveted as the Kerry gig.
Off The Ball AM went one step further and, quoting an unnamed source, alleged that O’Connor had been hired even before the interview process had started. If true, that would have been a different story. That would be completely unfair and a real slap in the face for Keane and Stack and their respective teams. But the accusations were denied in the strongest terms by outgoing chair Tim Murphy, and OTB AM later apologised for their “groundless, false, and incorrect” claims.
The bottom line, when you sidestep all the politics and gossip, is that Keane was given a three-year term and Kerry were knocked out of the championship by underdogs in Years 2 and 3. No Kerry manager has ever survived such a sequence. There was appetite for change and the board acted.
Only time will tell if they made the right decision by opting for Jack O’Connor. He will be judged by his results, just like every Kerry bainisteoir before him.
O’Connor faced some more understandable criticism over the manner in which he left his previous post in Kildare. From the outside looking in, it did appear as though he left them high and dry, but he subsequently explained that he hadn’t actually committed to The Lilywhites for 2022. In fact, he had “more or less” made his mind up that he would be standing aside.
“This thing that I left Kildare because I was asked to manage Kerry or that it was a done deal is absolute and total nonsense,” the Dromid man said. The commute was taking its toll and his management team had largely disbanded.
Even if he had another year with Kildare in the tank, the reality is that no Kerry-born intercounty manager is going to turn down Kerry if the opportunity arises.
Now, down to the real business of assembling a squad. Whereas previous regimes were condemned for sometimes overlooking players who were performing well for their clubs, O’Connor has taken a different approach.
Three Austin Stacks players – Dylan Casey, Jack O’Shea and Greg Horan – were drafted in on the back of the Rockies’ heroics in the County Championship. Two more of last season’s most eye-catching club players, Andrew Barry and Jack Savage, were also added to the panel.
Dan O’Donoghue and Darragh Roche both starred for East Kerry in their title-winning campaigns in 2019 and 2020. One could argue that they both might have been looked at sooner.
Elsewhere, goalkeeper Shane Murphy was recalled after being dropped by Peter Keane in 2018. Shane Ryan has done well over the past three seasons but there has been a nagging feeling in the county that Murphy and his unique attributes, particularly when kicking from the tee, might merit a recall. Clearly, Jack O’Connor is of the same mind.
There is also great excitement amongst Kerry fans surrounding the return of Stefan Okunbor. The former Geelong Cats player had made just a couple of appearances for Na Gaeil and St Brendan’s when O’Connor’s first panel was drawn up, but Okunbor was included anyway. He started at midfield in the first McGrath Cup game against Limerick and his eye-catching fetch from the throw-in left those of a green and gold persuasion rubbing their hands with glee.
THE KERRY WAY
There’s no denying that we consider ourselves to be the aristocrats of Gaelic football down here in Kerry. We demand that our senior footballers play the “Kerry way”. This “traditional” style of attack apparently includes plenty of kicking and catching, conveniently ignoring the fact that our best ever team was built around the handpass.
Nevertheless, we do enjoy a fast, direct game, and if the opening two matches in the McGrath Cup are anything to go by, Jack O’Connor intends to deliver on that front.
So far it has been an obvious tactic to get the ball into the hands of the team’s best passers – Paudie Clifford, Seán O’Shea and nominal corner back Tom O’Sullivan – and allow them to spray long, accurate passes into the full forward line.
O’Sullivan in particular appears to be operating as a free man and playmaker, taking advantage of the fact that most opponents drop an extra player back in defence.
This tactic has worked so far with Paul Geaney and Killian Spillane reaping the rewards in the opening preseason fixtures. That has certainly been encouraging. Whether or not the approach will continue to function as well when things get serious remains to be seen.
One of the biggest talking points from O’Connor’s first 100 days arrived on the 100th day itself. Last Wednesday night up in Templetuohy, Co. Tipperary, Tony Brosnan and Jack Savage entered the fray as second-half substitutes. The problem? They had lined out earlier that same day for MTU Kerry in their Sigerson Cup victory over UCD. Another MTU Kerry player, Paul O’Shea, was also named on the Kerry panel, but he did not feature against Tipp.
O’Connor’s decision to play Brosnan and Savage just hours after they had finished another match in a different county was rightly called into question. After all, player welfare is a hot button topic and surely there is no shortage of footballers in the county who would be delighted to receive a call-up.
There were mitigating factors, though. Kerry were missing 14 players due to club and college commitments. Without the MTU Kerry trio, they would have travelled to Tipperary with just 20 players. While it should be possible to find replacements, even at short notice, perhaps O’Connor was keen to keep the circle small, so to speak. Particularly with Covid so rampant.
The Kerry boss also indicated that the players were left to decide for themselves if they wanted to play. You might say, well, a fella scrapping to get on the Kerry team is hardly going to say “no”, and that’s a fair enough point to make. Who knows, maybe O’Connor was testing the players to see if they were willing to go above and beyond?
Either way, it’s not something I’d like to see happening again, although in this instance there was no harm done.
By and large, O’Connor has made popular choices up to this point and the mood on the street is positive. Victory over Cork on Saturday in front of a healthy home crowd will add to those good vibes, and with that in mind he is likely to name a strong starting lineup.
But, as the man himself knows all too well, the temperature will gradually increase over the next 100 days or so. O’Connor’s third coming will ultimately be judged in the boiling heat of championship action.
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