Friday 26 May 2017

O'Connor hasn't 'much appetite' for new term

Kerry boss Jack O'Connor will take time to consider his future after their
All-Ireland exit against Down on Saturday.
Kerry boss Jack O'Connor will take time to consider his future after their All-Ireland exit against Down on Saturday.
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Kerry will find out next week if they are in the market for a new football manager.

Jack O'Connor's two-year term has elapsed and yesterday the man who led Kerry to three of their last four All-Ireland titles admitted he did not have "much of an appetite for it at the moment".

However, he promised to sit down with the members of the Kerry executive next week and talk about the future before making a decision.

"I don't know. I don't think there is much of an appetite there at the moment. It just hurts a lot. We put everything into it and our whole lives are geared towards football," said O'Connor.

"We will let it settle for a week or so and then maybe have a chat about it and make a decision then. But right now would not be a great time to be making those decisions."

Kerry chairman Jerome Conway has revealed that the board are obviously anxious for him to stay.

O'Connor paid tribute to Down for seizing the opportunity on Saturday, but joined Tyrone manager Mickey Harte in his call for a greater carrot to be placed in front of the provincial champions. He even suggested that next year it may not be worth winning a provincial title after the way 2010 has panned out.

Beaten

"I am not just saying this after we have been beaten. I have said consistently that the provincial championships will have to be changed, or provincial winners will have to get a second shot at it," he explained.

"I mean, if you were looking at it in the cold light of day now, you would say that next year it's not worth trying to win a provincial championship, because you are sitting around for four weeks while other teams get match practice.

"Of course it has to be changed because it's an unfair system at the moment and the proof of the pudding is there for all to see at the moment, because the eight provincial finalists are now all out of the championship.

"The teams who have the match practice and the momentum through the back door are through to the semi-final. It worked in our favour last year and it worked against us this year, but all I am saying is that down the line this is an inequitable system and it will have to be changed."

O'Connor admitted he had mellowed since the aftermath of the defeat, when he was critical of disciplinary committees, new rules and referees. However, the way certain things have gone in the GAA this year continues to "gnaw away" at him.

"Look, they (Down) were better than us on the day but, having said that, I will have to say that the lads fought to the bitter end," he added.

"We just got no break in the game. Killian Young's disallowed goal was important because we had overcome the bad start and clawed our way back into the game. We had won seven or eight kick-outs in a row and had the momentum, so we needed that score to nail that momentum down.

"What other game in the world will have grown men inside in a studio (on 'The Sunday Game') wondering was a pass lateral, was it underhand or overhand. It is a ridiculous, crazy situation where men who were looking at it in slow motion cannot agree whether it was legal or not.

"What else will you have only chaos when you have a rule so loose that it's up to the discretion of a referee on any given day.

"That was disappointing and I have been consistently against that interpretation of the handpass. There are just a few things about the way the GAA have gone this year that are gnawing away at me and that handpass is certainly one of them."

O'Connor is satisfied that there has been "no negativity" from the Kerry public since Saturday's defeat, as acceptance that this team has travelled far seeps in. He does admit, however, that more change is imminent.

"I suppose you would have to say sooner or later that the team will have to be rejigged or revitalised. There were already a lot of changes from last year as it was. Some of those lads are on the road a long time.

"I was with the U-21 team back in the 1990s and some of those lads were involved. Mike McCarthy, Tomas O Se, Tommy Griffin and Tom O'Sullivan were on the All-Ireland U-21 winning team of 1998 and the '99 team that lost the final.

"They have ferocious mileage up and while I am not saying that any of those fellows are going to retire or anything, I am just saying that they have a lot of mileage on the clock.

"Maybe because they have a shorter year this year might give them an appetite to have another blast at it next year. Look, I suppose there will be a couple of fellas who will reconsider their positions, but there certainly won't be any pressure put on them."

Irish Independent

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