He’s still a key player for club and county, but Kieran Donaghy has "great potential" as a coach.
That’s the view of Austin Stacks manager and former Kerry defender Stephen Stack.
Stack will look to Kingdom talisman Donaghy again on Sunday to turn the screw when the Kerry champions face The Nire in the AIB Munster club final.
All-Ireland winning full-forward Donaghy has been in stunning form since a mid-summer revival that began against Mayo.
But at almost 32, he is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and has already been coaxed into coaching at club level.
“Everyone thinks that Kieran’s influence has just been since he came on in the Mayo game,” Stack explained.
“But, for us, he has had a very strong influence all year. When he couldn’t train with us because of his commitment with Kerry, he came down to our sessions and I often got him involved in taking the B team when we were playing A v B games.
“If we were doing tactical pieces, I’d involve him. I think he has a great potential as a coach.
“Ultimately, while I have a responsibility to lead the team along with the rest of my management, I also feel that if there are a couple of players capable of coaching in the future, it is my responsibility to give them an opportunity.
“So if Kieran was injured, as he was unfortunately a few times this year, I would, no more than any other senior members in the squad, give him an opportunity to maybe add a little bit more to the coaching side.
“He is not a fella I think that sits comfortably on the sideline anyway and watches a club session.
“And I think you’d be a fool, with his energy and enthusiasm and knowledge, not to involve him or maximise his involvement in any way you can.”
For now, it’s all about what Donaghy can contribute on the field of play though.
The Nire boss Benji Whelan has already admitted that he’s put plenty of thought into how to handle the man mountain this Sunday.
“The great thing about Kieran is that if I ask him to play in goals tomorrow morning, he will happily do it,” said former Kerry defender Stack.
“He is the ultimate squad player. He doesn’t think about himself, he thinks a lot about the other players in the squad and is keeping in touch with fellas quietly.
“I wouldn’t know too much about it but I’d hear about it and he’d be doing it in the most positive way. That’s the way he is.
“He has an awful lot of positive energy coming out of him and he has a very good attitude to life.
“He has a very good attitude to people and whatever success he has had this year, I can tell you it hasn’t been by accident. He has worked exceptionally hard this year.
“People have probably only seen him since the Mayo game but he had been working phenomenally hard since the start of the year on trying to get himself right and I’m glad things came right for him for a finish.”
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