Wednesday 17 January 2018

Donaghy happy to postpone Kerry call

Kieran Donaghy is enjoying playing basketball for Tralee Warriors. Photo: Sportsfile
Kieran Donaghy is enjoying playing basketball for Tralee Warriors. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Don't ask, because the truth is he doesn't know.

In one breath, Kerry star Kieran Donaghy hints that he's ready to get back with the Kingdom and go again. But in the next, he admits that he's already promised himself - twice - that he was giving himself one more year.

At some stage, he's going to honour that promise.

He's been similarly conflicted before. After Kerry won Sam Maguire in 2014, he was tempted to go out on a high.

But Austin Stacks won the county championship and with that came a chance to captain Kerry. Suddenly, going back for more was non-negotiable.

Last winter, after coming within a whisker of skippering Kerry to an All-Ireland, he sat down with Eamonn Fitzmaurice and told him that 2016 was the last roll of the dice.

The problem is that 2016 only added to the inner conflict. He featured 11 times in league and championship and felt like he did well. The numbers back him up too.

His decision-making and the ground he covered didn't smack of a man heading for the exit door. And when he sat down with Fitzmaurice for an end-of-year debrief, the manager told him not to close any doors. And that's what he's done.

"It's tricky," Donaghy admits. "This (football) was supposed to be done by now. But I don't want to close the door until I see after the basketball. Then I'll see and I'll know if the appetite is there in the pit of your stomach.

"You'll know if you're able to give it what it needs and if you are able for the pace. Because if you are going to do it you have to do it right."

He spoke to Marc ó Sé, before he announced his decision, and posed a few questions.

Donaghy realised the questions he was putting to the An Ghaeltacht man were the same issues he was grappling with himself.

"I was encouraging him to stay," says the 33-year-old. "I was saying this and that to him asking him if he was ready to step away and leave it all behind.

"And I thought afterwards that here I was putting these questions to a 36- or 37-year-old and they were things I had to find answers for myself.


"I spoke to Eamonn and the consensus was that I had had a good year. I did my groin in the semi but he said not to let that take away from the year. I suppose he knew what frame of mind I was in going into this season.

"Look in five years' time I definitely won't be able to play for Kerry and now I can so…"

In the meantime, there's plenty to keep him going. His book 'What Do You Think of That?' has gone "better than expected" with "loads of good feedback".

Tonight he brings the publicity tour to Tyrone and Owen Mulligan's bar in Cookstown where he'll sign copies and get on stage with Mulligan, Joe Brolly and Joe McMahon from 9pm.

There's also the matter of the newly-formed Super League team in Tralee that he has helped set up.

The Warriors, formed after two clubs in the town came together, has piqued huge interest.

Donaghy reckons that around 1,000 people turned out for their last home game but believes people come to see more than just the game. The entertainment is non-stop.

'All Star' teams selected from kids who attended his basketball camp played at half-time. There's half-court shots to win prizes and the fact that the team have lost just once all season doesn't hurt either.

"There's a big future for basketball in this country," he said.

The basketball season is set to drag on to March but there'll be a decision made on his Kerry future long before that.

And he knows why people might ask if he'd be better served resting up for the winter to give himself the best possible chance at coming back with Kerry, rather than playing basketball.

"We train three times a week, are in the gym another day and have game at the weekends.

"And sometimes that's a trip to Dublin or Belfast so yeah I know why people ask that. I always think it's a great break. I played last year and it helped me keep my fitness up.

"I just enjoy it. I enjoy being on a court for couple of hours rather than out on a pitch in January. But then you always look forward to getting back out there too."

Don't ask, because the truth is he doesn't know.

Irish Independent

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