Wednesday 17 January 2018

It's do or die against Rebels – Donaghy

Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy believes that playing at midfield at this time of year helps his fitness for the Championship
Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy believes that playing at midfield at this time of year helps his fitness for the Championship
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Kieran Donaghy admits life as a Kerry footballer has been very tough in the midst of the Kingdom's worst losing sequence for 12 years.

Kerry got back to winning ways against Down on Saturday night and while Donaghy always knew there would be "light at the end of the tunnel" he doesn't hide from the fact that there has been pressure from within his own county.

"It's been tough. You are trying to keep it positive, we are training hard but we're not putting performances on the pitch and that's the frustrating thing," he said. "For the likes of myself to lose four league games in a row, it is frustrating and it is frustrating for every player."

Donaghy admits it has been challenging as an amateur sportsman to explain how Kerry have slumped to a string of such poor performances.

"We put our lives on hold for this. We are going up and we are not playing well and you have to listen to it all week, 'What's wrong with ye? What's wrong with that? What's wrong with this?'

TOUGH

"It's just a tough time for an amateur player to try and keep his head about him. To keep looking down the line. We're putting in the effort.

"We're getting players back here and there, our squad is getting stronger week by week and that's always the light at the end of the tunnel from my own personal view.

"All along it was great that these fellas are getting games, younger fellas, and there is no harm in that. But they are better than what they are showing on the pitch."

Donaghy admits his future as a Kerry footballer is likely to remain at full-forward despite the misgivings he admits he has about playing in the position at this time of year.

"At this time of year I like to be out around the middle and getting my legs under me," he said.

"We're going to be playing all these teams in the championship in the knockout stages, hopefully. Why are we giving them a look at me at full-forward?

"I remember playing a league match against Armagh last year on a bad night. We were down six points and balls were being pumped left, right and centre, there were five or six Armagh lads around me. It's a demoralising place to be.

"From my own point of view, being away trying to come back, I wanted to play midfield and with the amount of young players around I felt it was important that I played a leadership role around there.

"I see myself as a full-forward but at the end of the day I was one of these fellas who wasn't christened a Kerry player from the very beginning so being given a Kerry jersey was very important to me no matter what number it is.

"But I think I can do more damage for the team at full-forward."

Donaghy acknowledges that confidence has been an issue for Kerry and that was even reflected in how they tried to protect a lead in the closing quarter against Down.

"It was so important for us to get two points. If you ended up conceding a late goal there – we'd only have a point and end up getting relegated. I wouldn't blame the team for the way we played.

"The way Down play they get a lot of bodies back. Players are a bit apprehensive about kicking ball in case it gets turned over and they came out in swarms. It's hard to play against. I thought we did very well in the first half when it was a bit more open and we played more fluid football.

"Confidence might be an issue but of course it would be after losing four games in a row. Not only losing them but losing them convincingly bar the Kildare game which we should have won. The other three games we were poor, however."

Donaghy acknowledges a defeat to Cork in Tralee on Sunday will almost certainly mean relegation.

"It's always a good time to play Cork, always a good game," he said. "We have no choice in the matter but to try and stare them down and beat them here next week. Otherwise it's Division 2 football next year."

Irish Independent

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