COLM COOPER and Paul Galvin have expressed relief that Kieran Donaghy’s knee injury is not as serious as first feared.
The 2006 Footballer of the Year suffered the knock just before half-time in Austin Stacks’ league game against Dingle last weekend and the reverberations weren’t long being felt around the entire island.
Galvin joked yesterday that there were probably “fellas hoping for the worst as well as fellas hoping for the best” but all the indications are the full forward will be fit to face Clare in the Munster Championship on June 15.
“Everyone in Kerry gasped on Sunday evening when he picked up what appeared to be a serious injury,” said Cooper. “Thankfully for us, and especially for himself, he is going to be okay. It would have been a big downer to miss the championship having done all the work in training.”
Donaghy’s impact since transferring from midfield to full-forward in the middle of the 2006 summer campaign has been obvious. Cooper believes he is a far better player now than when he was voted the country’s finest.
“He benefits the whole team. He came in, in 2006 and we weren’t too sure of him ourselves in Kerry. Things weren’t going too well for us and Jack O’Connor shook it up a bit. Kieran went up to full-forward and finished as Footballer of the Year.
“He was probably a bit naïve when he came in at times but he has been learning an awful lot. He has been in tight situations, games where he has been sent off. It has been a learning curve for him but he has come on an awful lot in the last 12 months.”
Kerry may be rated as short-odds favourites to complete an historic three-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles this September but Donaghy’s scare is a reminder of just how quickly a team’s fortunes can change. Galvin himself sat out much of the recent league campaign with a hamstring complaint but he is one of the few Kerry players to have been sidelined involuntarily for a lengthy spell in recent years.
“We have been very lucky and it is a key thing for us this year. If you look at Tyrone, they have had an horrific time. A lot of it is down to our medical team and training programme. If you want to challenge for two or three in a rows your training regime has to be spot on. It has to be measured and balanced and common sense has to be at play.
“Guys are working hard. They are almost professional and it is important that trainers are liaising with clubs and that training is sensible.”
If any squad in the country is capable of absorbing injuries, it is surely Kerry. Galvin said yesterday the current group is “as strong as it has been in recent years” and pointed to a batch of Under-21s looking for a bite of the senior cherry after recent All-Ireland success.
Critics of the All-Ireland championship would no doubt point to the ease of their early summer appointments as one of the reasons behind their relative lack of casualties and Galvin admits that he would dearly love to see a more competitive Munster Championship.
That said, he points out with a smile that Kerry have no qualms with the path laid out ahead of them this year and he is hoping they don’t have to deviate from it through the back door.
“It depends on the group and age (of players). In 2006 the longer campaign really benefited us. At this stage, that many tough games may not.
“We’re very experienced at this stage, even outside of Darragh (Ó Sé). A lot of the lads are seven or eight years on the road. Tomás Ó Sé and Tom O’Sullivan are there ten years. Some guys have miles on the clock so I think the direct route is the way to go for us.”
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