Thursday 21 September 2017

Kingdom's Darren O'Sullivan ready to move up gears for 'serious' business

Kerry's Darran O'Sullivan. Photo: Sportsfile
Kerry's Darran O'Sullivan. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Darran O'Sullivan says this is his time to "get serious".

Like every other Kerry footballer of the current era, he has never known a season that hasn't extended to at least an All-Ireland quarter-final.

This weekend has been kind to him in the past. Last year he was centrally involved in the seven-goal rout of Kildare, in 2011 he scored one of the most outrageous goals with a back heel against Limerick.

Five years earlier, O'Sullivan essentially announced himself as a Kerry senior inter-county footballer with a stunning solo goal as they brought the house down on Armagh.

"Jack (O'Connor) was waiting for me to do something for a while and eventually I got through. That was my first goal for Kerry," he recalls.

After making the shortlist for Footballer of the Year in 2011, O'Sullivan's career has staggered more than cruised, gains made being offset by the recurrence of the latest injury.

He put down a really solid league for the first time in a while now and is reaping benefits from being essentially a full-time athlete.

An athlete-mentoring role with Sky Sports, where he visits schools across the country to offer advice to prospective young sportspeople, gives him a certain freedom, especially at this time of year, to devote most of his time to the Kerry cause.

"I am loving it. I used to work nine to five in a bank from Monday to Friday but after a while you ask yourself, 'Do I want to be doing this job when I finish football?' And I didn't. I wasn't enjoying it, just going through the motions.

"So when I got an opportunity to work with young people and work in sport it was a no-brainer for me and obviously, the fact that I work on a school calendar means that I am fresh during the championship and this has been a big help."

He recoils a little from the suggestion that he's back to where he was five years ago.

"I wasn't too happy with the Munster Championship. I was happy with the league. I wouldn't say I was outstanding. I have an awful long way to go. I haven't been happy playing because I have been constantly fighting with my own body."

But he's confident the worst excesses of a troubling hip problem are behind him.

"I am not too bad now. I worked hard during the winter. Last year's Mid-Kerry Championship didn't finish until January of this year. That helped."

Irish Independent

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