Multiple All-Ireland winner Tom O’Sullivan will return to training tonight to help shore up Kerry’s defence – but the Munster champions’ delight will be tempered by news today that Marc Ó Sé has been hit with a one-month ban by Croke Park.
Word filtered out last night that Ó Sé and Dublin full-forward Eoghan O’Gara have been sanctioned over an incident at the end of last Saturday’s thrilling Allianz League clash between the counties at headquarters.
O’Gara could be facing a lengthier ban for his alleged headbutt of the Kerry full-back.
Ó Sé’s suspension comes in the wake of an eight-week ban for Kingdom attacker Barry John Keane but is likely to be vigorously contested by Kerry officials, who believe Ó Sé was attempting to shrug off the perpetrator, O’Gara.
It’s the latest in a long list of disciplinary disputes and suspensions between Croke Park and Kerry, fuelling Kerry suspicions that there is some sort of agenda against Jack O’Connor’s squad.
However, it also raises ongoing concerns about Kerry’s own discipline on the field of play – four of their last six competitive games have resulted in suspensions for Kerry players.
Tom O’Sullivan’s return to the Kerry set-up – for the first time in seven months – will help alleviate anger.
The Rathmore man is looking for a sixth All-Ireland medal this season after admitting he needed time to rediscover his appetite for the game.
"I’ll be back tomorrow (Friday)," confirmed the 32-year-old Garda. "I needed to get the hunger back and I have got it back. It’s in the belly again, I’m glad to say. I needed the break. I’ve played a lot of football and the idea of playing football in January and February was difficult. But I’ve been training hard with my club since last week and it’s there again, thank God.
"When you put on a Kerry jersey, you need to be giving everything to it. If there’s a doubt in your mind about being able to do that then there’s no point doing it. It’s a 24-7 thing now. If you’re not going to give 100% you’re letting yourself and your team-mates down not to mention the management and the supporters.
"I had to consider everything. It was never going to be a decision that was done lightly, for the sake of the team more than anybody or anything else."
O’Sullivan said he had no problem with O’Connor issuing him with an ultimatum after the Mayo game last week.
"Jack and myself have a great relationship but he likes to have a hop off me now and again," smiled O’Sullivan. "It’s all good-natured stuff. The fact is I’ve met him over the last few months and spoken to him about playing football this year. The interest in coming back was always there but it was if and when it could be done. I always knew what his plan was and he knew what my thinking was.
"I just told him I need those extra few weeks to get myself right and prepared mentally for what lies ahead because it’s a huge commitment."
Having made his Kerry debut back in the 1999 National League, O’Sullivan goes into his 13th season not overly concerned about the impact of the high mileage on his body.
"I look around and see the injuries other lads pick up and I count myself really lucky," he said. "I’ve no major injuries to talk of, nothing that has kept me off the sidelines for too long. I’m hoping that will stand to me this season and the good luck will continue."