Sunday 22 October 2017

O'Neill staying with Kerry as he rules out Kildare switch

O’Neill: unfinished business
O’Neill: unfinished business

DAMIAN LAWLOR

CIAN O'NEILL has ruled himself out of the running for the vacant Kildare football manager's position, despite being seen as one of the frontrunners following the departure of Kieran McGeeney.

O'Neill has confirmed to the Sunday Independent that he had not made any approach for the job – nor had he been approached by the Kildare board.

In the past month, O'Neill had spoken of his ambition to one day take charge of his native county, but in recent days he has stated his immediate future rests with the Kerry footballers, where he is part of Eamonn Fitzmaurice's back-room team. He added that he is not interested in taking charge at this stage – even if his name is in the reckoning.

"A few weeks ago I made comments about one day managing my native county and those comments took on a life of their own, but I just don't want anyone to take up the wrong message," he said.

"I learnt a lot as coach and selector with Mayo last year and I'm continuing that process with Kerry where we have serious ambitions."

O'Neill has just started a new job as head of the Department of Sport, Leisure and Childhood Studies at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and hopes to continue as coach and selector with the Kerry footballers for the foreseeable future.

"I'm five days into a new job at CIT, I've just moved to a new city (from Limerick where he was based at UL) and into a new house and I love being part of the Kerry set-up, even if we are still massively disappointed with how our season ended against Dublin.

"I have had absolutely no contact from anyone in Kildare and even if I did the time is just not right for me to be looking for that job. I have to undergo back surgery before Christmas, so that's another consideration. The bottom line is we have serious unfinished business with Kerry. We saw in training what the lads are capable of and we are gutted at having lost to Dublin. That's where my future lies for now, getting back on track for next year."

O'Neill said there had been no talk of retirements within the Kingdom camp since their defeat in that epic All-Ireland semi-final against the Dubs, even though a number of their more seasoned campaigners are nearing the end of the road, many of whom held onto their own jerseys after they had been beaten by Jim Gavin's men.

GRASSROOTS RISING UP

"With the manner of our defeat, the disappointment has been so great that we haven't even spoken about anything like that yet, so no decisions have been made as far as I know," he continued.

But while he ruled out being in contention for the Lilywhites gig anytime soon he urged all parties in his native county to sort the current mess out. The former Kildare minor and under 21 footballer says the impact of the current impasse will be felt years from now if the matter is not resolved soon.

"The players are unhappy; the outgoing management are unhappy, so too are the county board and the clubs. It's a mess and for everyone's sake in the county I hope it's sorted soon.

"The bottom line – and I've seen it from my own background – is that an inter-county career can sometimes be an average of only four years, so if this drags on any longer it could affect the next season or two and jeopardise players' careers.

"Unity has to be found somewhere and some compromise has to be made somewhere," he added.

Meanwhile, the GPA and GAA will announce details of a new hurling project to be launched in the US on Tuesday.

It is understood that a number of inter-county hurlers have taken part in trials for two 10-a-side exhibition teams that could play a demonstration game before an American sporting audience in October, most likely to take place before a Notre Dame American college football fixture.

Sunday Independent

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