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Moloney targets Kingdom No 3 jersey

RETURNING Kerry footballer Mike Moloney is setting his sights on nailing down a place in Jack O'Connor's panel this season.

The highly rated 24-year-old full-back -- who starred for London in the Exiles' All-Ireland championship run last year -- is coming home to Kerry next weekend, as he starts an 18-month post-graduate course in the University of Limerick at the end of the month.

And the decision to return to Killarney, where he will link up again with his club Dr Crokes, has opened the door for Moloney, who captained Kerry in the McGrath Cup opener against IT Tralee last year, to win a place on the Kingdom's senior panel.

With the full-back position proving troublesome for Kerry over the last number of years, many view Moloney -- who played as full-back for Kerry's minors and U-21s -- as a possible long-term solution. But he wants to take it one step at a time.

"I want to get back playing with the Crokes first and see how that goes. Whatever happens after that, we'll just take it as it comes," Moloney said.

"Anybody who plays football in Kerry wants to play senior championship football with Kerry. And I am no different. If the opportunity comes along, of course I will give it a go. At the moment, it's about getting back playing with the Crokes."

After his spell in London, where he played club football for the Kingdom Kerry Gaels as well as impressing for London in the All-Ireland series, especially in their famous championship win over Fermanagh, Moloney feels that he's returning to Kerry a better player.

"I feel I have improved. The standard in London is fairly high. It's very competitive in London, the competitions are tough," he said.

"It's a different type of game compared to back home, a bit more physical, but that is a good thing too to bring into my game. You learn to adapt and it's made me an all-round better footballer."

On his decision to leave the lights of London behind him, Moloney, who worked as an engineer after moving to the English capital last spring, said: "The opportunity to go back to college in UL was just too good to turn down. To be honest, I always wanted to do that. It's a route home for me.

"Everybody knows that things aren't too good in the construction industry at the moment, so if I didn't decide to go down this road it would be a case of living abroad long-term."

Irish Independent