Wednesday 13 December 2017

Jack O'Connor begged me to return but I've no regrets: Tom O'Sullivan

Kieran McCarthy

FORMER Kerry defender Tom O'Sullivan has revealed that not even a plea from Kingdom manager Jack O'Connor was able to change his mind about retiring.

"I was talking to Jack late last week. He was asking if there was any way that he could twist my arm," said the 33-year-old.

"But I said it was the finish, there would be no twisting the arm this year. He probably twisted my arm for the last three years.

"Jack felt it would only take me three weeks to get fit if I put my mind to it. I agreed. But the hunger just wasn't there. I told him it was time to call it a day. I have enough given, and it's time to let the young lads step up now."

Regarded as one of the finest corner-backs of the last decade, O'Sullivan -- who played in nine All-Ireland finals, having made his Kerry senior debut back in 2000 -- says that he always knew that last season would be his final campaign in the green and gold.

"I always said last year was going to be my last. It would have been nice to go out on a high but it wasn't meant to be," he said.

"I found it difficult last year to get back into training. I went back later than in most years -- the older you get the harder it gets.

"The older you get, you should be going back to training even earlier, not later.

"It (retiring) wasn't a difficult decision. To be honest, it was an easy one to make. I just felt I have enough of it played.

"I couldn't look back on my career and say that I have any regrets because I don't. I probably won everything that the game has to offer. I was very lucky in the sense.

"That's why walking away was easy for me, I have done it all. It's time to move on."

And the Moyvane-based Garda is adamant that even in the height of this summer's championship, he won't have any regrets over his decision to retire.

"Maybe watching the bigger games I might miss it, but I don't think I will because I have enough of it played not to miss it," he said.

As for Kerry's future, while O'Sullivan believes a successful All-Ireland campaign might usher a few more towards retirement, the conveyor belt is strong enough to continue producing stars of the future.

"A lot of players have gone but a lot have come in too," he said. "Kerry don't seem to be winning much underage at the moment but we still seem to pick out two or three individual players from the U-21s and the minors, and they just step up to the mark.

"In any one year you have maybe only one senior player retiring so all you need is one new player coming on the scene.

"There are certainly two or three good young backs in there and a few good young forwards but it could also depend on how many players retire.

"There are two or three more moving closer to retiring. If Kerry won the All-Ireland, one or two might go. But then one or two will come in, that's just the way it is in Kerry."

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