O’Sullivan admits 2011 loss was a ‘killer blow’ for Kerry

They will mention 2002 and 2008 as ones that got away, but for ex-Kerry star, Darran O’Sullivan, the All-Ireland loss that cut deepest was the classic Stephen Cluxton final in 2011.

O’Sullivan admits 2011 loss was a ‘killer blow’ for Kerry

They will mention 2002 and 2008 as ones that got away, but for ex-Kerry star, Darran O’Sullivan, the All-Ireland loss that cut deepest was the classic Stephen Cluxton final in 2011.

That, O’Sullivan has written on The Sports Chronicle, was a killer blow.

“We played ourselves into a winning position, it was familiar territory for us. More often than not we killed off the game at that point. But, with time ticking down, Dublin caught us and won it with, more or less, the last kick of the game. It was devastating.

“To this day, I can’t explain how or why we let that one slip.

“You can ask yourself a million questions, but you’ll never get the answers, not the ones you want anyway. I can’t watch it back. The last five minutes would be filled with one “what if?” moment after another.”

Kerry fumed after — and since — at referee Joe McQuillan for not spotting the late hit which poleaxed Declan O’Sullivan, or the award of the free which Cluxton converted to snatch a dramatic final, 1-12 to 1-11.

“I was in the dressing room after the game and I checked my phone,” O’Sullivan wrote on thesportschronicle.com.

“I saw the first text message, it said something like, “Hard luck, you were five minutes from another medal, man of the match and player of the year.” I couldn’t cope with that. I turned off the phone.

“I get it. I know people mean well and they want to say something to soften the blow. But it’s like a death in the family. There’s nothing anyone can say that will take back the sense of loss — that heartbreak and deep disappointment. It won’t stop them trying though.

“We needed to get away from all of that. Myself, Gooch, Kieran O’Leary, Eoin Brosnan and a buddy of mine from London, Eoin Cronin, headed off on the Tuesday for a week in Marbella. We drowned our sorrows. Pretended it never happened.

“Then you’re back and you realise that you can’t pretend. It really did happen. It’s a bit of a blur. You’re back playing with the club but your head or your heart isn’t in it. You’re a shell of a person.

“A lot of us worked in jobs where we dealt with the public, I was in the bank that time, and in Kerry everyone has an opinion on a match. Nobody walks in, sees a Kerry player and says to themselves, ‘I’ve an opinion on how they lost, but he probably doesn’t want to hear it’. As much as it might frustrate you, you just have to hear them out. It’s part of wearing the green and gold jersey.

“Kerry will never change. No matter what happens, it will always be “We’ll win it this year.”

“That’s not a bad thing but it does bring a massive weight of expectation on players, and it’s not getting any easier to win the Championship.

“I’ve huge respect for that mentality.

“For over a decade I played with a bunch of “fine thick Kerrymen” who never knew when they were beaten. You get knocked down, you have no choice but to get back up and go again. Be stubborn. Don’t take no for an answer.

“When I think of the fellas I played with, I think of how “thick” they were. Not “thick” in the way it’s understood elsewhere, they were “fine thick Kerrymen”. In Kerry it means that someone has mental toughness. A stubbornness.”

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