Buckley blow for Kerry ahead of Championship

Kerry have suffered a serious blow to their Championship preparations with the unexpected departure of coach Donie Buckley from the Kingdom’s management team.

The Castleisland man’s decision was influenced by the prospect of a more limited coaching role this summer after returning late to the set-up following a knee operation.

Both Kerry and Buckley were at pains last night to point out the parting was not acrimonious but some players, known to be close to Buckley, claimed the departure is “a significant loss”.

Buckley missed most of the league campaign after undergoing a knee operation in February and the management view is that by the time he returned last month, Kerry’s summer preparations were already well down the road under physical trainer Alan O’Sullivan. “Things had moved on,” said one well-placed source.

It is believed Kerry coach Jack O’Connor was keen to retain Buckley as a selector, but having missed almost four months of the season, it was evident that he could not be parachuted back in over Alan O’Sullivan, who has been a key part of O’Connor’s management team for the last three seasons.

With Buckley based in Ennis, and seen very much as a “hands on” coach, the situation would not be resolved satisfactorily. The source added last night: “Donie had missed out on four months work, and Alan [O’Sullivan] was already well advanced with the programme. Donie’s first love is working with players and I don’t think he’d have much interest in travelling from Ennis just to be a selector. He’s not making a big deal of it though because Kerry football is more important than any one coach.”

Ger O’Keeffe and Diarmuid Murphy are the other Kerry selectors.

Buckley is a loss to the Kingdom, who open their Munster title defence on May 27 in Thurles against Tipperary. If they win, they’ll face Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh a fortnight later.

Management are likely to brief the players on the departure at training this evening in Killarney.


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