The UL lecturer explained he did talk with Fitzmaurice four weeks ago but only because the new Kingdom boss had asked for his advice on appointing a physical trainer. O’Neill stressed his brief is now football coaching and, while nothing is official with Kerry, admitted he would be agreeable to taking up such a position with a team closer to his Limerick base.
After linking up with Mayo last October and helping them towards this year’s All-Ireland final, O’Neill explained he was leaving James Horan’s management team because of health issues. In 2009, O’Neill had two discs removed from his back after a car accident and the commutes from Limerick to Castlebar have taken their toll.
“I’m being seen to leave Mayo after just a year but there was never any chance of me doing a second year,” said O’Neill.
“My back has got worse with the driving and the five-and-a-half hour round trips were causing problems for my health. That is the only reason why I won’t be with Mayo next year.”
O’Neill stated he talked with Fitzmaurice but primarily on the basis he was giving the Finuge man recommendations on a replacement for Alan O’Sullivan as physical trainer.
“I spoke to Eamonn four weeks ago. He was looking for a physical trainer and I gave him three names. There was nothing spoken about in terms of leaving Mayo. Eamonn was interested in discussing physical trainers and that’s not my area anymore and Eamonn does the coaching himself. Anything else wasn’t discussed at any great length.”
However, O’Neill said he would be amenable to working with an inter-county team, if it doesn’t involve as much driving as Mayo.
“I love coaching and love being involved with teams, whether it’s my own club or our (UL) Sigerson team. I would be interested in a position closer to Limerick.”
Eamon O’Shea was ratified as Tipperary hurling boss last night and the Kilruane McDonaghs man enjoyed an excellent working relationship with O’Neill for three seasons. After reaching two All-Ireland finals together in 2009 and 2010, O’Neill remained on with Declan Ryan to help guide Tipperary to another decider last year before joining Mayo a month later. However, O’Neill is expected to be ratified in Fitzmaurice’s backroom team along with Diarmuid Murphy and Mikey Sheehy at next month’s Kerry County Board meeting.