Kerry disadvantaged by lack of action, claims James O’Donoghue

James O’Donoghue claims Kerry would prefer more games if they had the opportunity to change the All-Ireland senior football championship structure.

O’Donoghue, 25 next month, was in Croke Park yesterday to launch the competition’s associate sponsors AIB’s “Backing Club and County” campaign where he dismissed local reports he could miss the Munster semi-final with Tipperary or Waterford on June 14.

He put down his absence from Legion’s extra-time championship win over Mid Kerry on Sunday to a small hamstring/calf injury but will return to Kerry training this evening. He also reported his left shoulder, which was operated on last November, as “excellent”.

The 2014 footballer of the year will head out to Portugal with the rest of the panel next Monday aiming to stake a starting place for their clash in Thurles or Dungarvan, although he indicated it’s likely to be more of a bonding trip than a training camp like last year.

Kerry’s championship opener comes on the same day as Donegal’s second summer outing and Galway’s third. He can appreciate that other counties are envious not just of Kerry as All-Ireland champions but is just as jealous as Ulster teams.

“I can understand that but Kerry probably wouldn’t pick that if they had the chance. They’d want more games and they’d want tougher games. It’s just, whoever wins Ulster right has had three or four huge, tough games behind them so that’s the advantage of them winning it.

“And then coming from the other side, if Kerry or Cork win the Munster they are probably fresh going into the All-Ireland series. It depends which way you want to spin it. You can work it any way you want.

“Do you want to have loads of games and have momentum or do you want to be fresh and ready? It can differ from year to year. I’d probably choose the tough games.”

O’Donoghue admits he’s in limbo at the moment as he works to get back into starting line-up contention. In total, he’s played six games since his return — the club’s championship fixtures with Dr Crokes and Kerins O’Rahillys, two club challenge matches as well as a couple of internal games with Kerry.

“I felt great for two or three months after winning the All-Ireland but now I’m kind of back to square one because I don’t know where I stand in the team.

“Once I get back into the team and things I can concentrate on winning more All-Irelands but my small step first is getting back playing right because it’s very easy to get lost if you’re not playing well.”

He’s grateful that the return of Colm Cooper and Darran O’Sullivan from injury and Tommy Walsh from Australia has taken some of the spotlight off him. Having played in a No11 role in last year’s All-Ireland final, he hopes to alternate with Cooper as supplier and finisher.

“I’m hoping to do that but I suppose it has to be free flowing again. You can’t just say ‘switch that for 10 minutes’. Sure the two of ye could end up at centre forward then and no-one inside.

“Again, it comes with time playing together. It happened a couple of times in 2013 where Darran was doing it with Gooch and it worked lovely in the Dublin game so it’s just kind of a natural thing that has to happen again.

“It’s all about time playing together, just to get them little things right.”


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