Losses won't hold Kerry back, insists Moynihan
KERRY legend Seamus Moynihan is confident that the Kingdom can cope without a host of key players from last year's successful assault on the All-Ireland Football Championship.
Aidan O'Mahony's decision to quit the squad has left another gaping hole for manager Jack O'Connor to fill, with just over two weeks to go before the Munster SFC quarter-final against Tipperary on May 16.
From the team that started last September's All-Ireland final against Cork, Diarmuid Murphy and Darragh O Sé have retired, while Tadhg Kennelly and Tommy Walsh left for Australian Rules Football.
O'Mahony appeared as a last-minute sub for Killian Young against the Rebels but tasted plenty of game time this year at centre-back.
Mike McCarthy's decision to return will compensate for O'Mahony's departure but the versatile Rathmore man would have been a useful player coming off the bench.
Kerry County Board chairman Jerome Conway insisted yesterday that the door is open for O'Mahony's possible return in a number of weeks as the player attends to "personal issues."
And Moynihan is optimistic that his former Kerry team-mate will return to the fold at some point during the summer.
Moynihan, a four-time All-Ireland senior medallist, said: "First and foremost, it's very disappointing to hear that Aidan has left the panel or opted out. He's been a great servant and played fantastic football from 2004 on. He was man of the match in the 2004 and 2006 All-Ireland finals but he would be aware himself that his current form wasn't up to his normal levels. But his form could have come back at some stage it might be a little bit premature to write Aidan off.
"Whatever is going on with him, I'm not privy to it but the door will always be left open for Aidan.
"A guy with experience like that is invaluable for the championship. You need players with experience and he has buckets of it."
In addition, Kerry are also without the retired Sean O'Sullivan who called time on his inter-county career.
The turnover rate is high but Moynihan insisted that Kerry's starting 15 come championship time is still as good as any.
New goalkeeper Brendan Kealy has acquitted himself well during the National League and the decision to abandon the square ball experiment will benefit the Kilcummin shotstopper.
The defence remains anchored by sheer quality in the form of Marc and Tomás O Sé, McCarthy and Tom Sullivan while at midfield, Anthony Maher and Micheál Quirke are vying for a place alongside All Star Seamus Scanlon.
And in attack, Colm Cooper, Declan O'Sullivan, Paul Galvin and Kieran Donaghy are four of the best forwards in the country.
Moynihan reflected: "It's hard to replace players with experience but we have to move with it and Jack didn't wake up one morning and suddenly realise that all these faces were gone off the panel.
"He's been preparing for this for the last four or five months and has changed the set-up accordingly.
"The flipside is that fresh faces have made training more interesting, with a fierce competition for places, and it's like the man looking at the glass and wondering if it's half full of half empty.
"Obviously we bemoan the loss of such great players and if any other team lost them they would struggle but Kieran Donaghy is back and that will cancel out one of Tadhg or Tommy so in essence, you're looking at being without three of the team."
Moynihan added: "You just have to look at Cork's team last year The rejigged it and introduced a lot of the U-21 team that won the All-Ireland.
"They could have won the senior but the one thing that caught them was experience. Last year will stand to players like Colm O'Neill, Daniel Goulding and Paul Kerrigan.
"All those players will be better again, Paddy Kelly too, and they will have learned from that experience.
"Kerry will have to bite the bullet now and start introducing new players. It's a cycle you have to go through. We were fortunate enough that the panel was very solid and very strong. A few have been waiting on the bench for a few years, looking forward to getting their time in the sun.
"You wouldn't want to see four or five U-21 players coming straight in and that won't be the case. What we have are players at a proper age who have served their time."
Meanwhile, there was good news for Kerry yesterday when it emerged that ace corner forward Colm Cooper has resumed training with his club Dr Crokes and will feature against Austin Stacks tomorrow evening in the local championship.
Cooper underwent surgery after sustaining a serious eye injury in the recent league match against Monaghan but has made a swift recovery and is now on course to face Tipperary at Semple Stadium on May 16.