Donaghy not looking back in anger on final
Kieran Donaghy has admitted losing to Dublin at Croke Park last month has been easier to take than his previous All-Ireland final defeat to Tyrone three years ago.
Despite the nature of Dublin's last-gasp win, Donaghy has revealed that the hurt isn't the same for him as it was in 2008, when the Kingdom spurned an opportunity for a three-in-a-row against their Ulster nemesis.
In Donaghy's estimation, Kerry performed better in the 2011 final defeat than they did when losing the 2008 decider by four points and that is a small crumb of comfort as they look ahead to next year.
"In 2008 we were going for three-in- a-row. We were going to be part of the great teams in Kerry that had won three- in-a-row, so that was more disappointing. We didn't play that day, we didn't get a performance out of ourselves," he recalled.
"At least against Dublin for 64 minutes we played well and scrapped well. We played as a team and were four points up and playing well, so at least you know you gave yourself a shot. In 2008, even though we were ahead with 10 or 11 minutes to go, we never played.
"We were all over the shop going into the game and there was just huge disappointment after it, but they probably all hurt the same. It's just that 2008 was a crushing defeat for me, but we are tough fellas and we will give it another go."
Donaghy came into the All-Ireland final against Dublin with something of a cloud hanging over his form and question marks being raised over his inclusion by such luminaries as former midfield great Jack O'Shea.
But a big performance answered those questions and has given Donaghy the assurance that he remains more beneficial at full-forward to Kerry than anywhere else, despite his early cameo against Dublin as a half-forward.
"My future will be at full-forward; that's where I can contribute most to the team. Drifting out is fine, too, but going into the final this year it was something we had worked on," he said.
"We felt they were very strong on their kick-outs, especially on Paul Flynn's side where I was for the first 15 or 20 minutes. We wanted to get a foothold and get possession and I was happy to go out there because I wanted to get my hands on some ball and get the confidence going.
"I didn't want to be inside with a swarm defence and ball breaking out, so it was perfect for me."
Donaghy said it had been a "tricky" year for him, especially when they hit Croke Park for the All-Ireland quarter-finals. Ultimately, he stressed that his own performances matter little to him as long as Kerry win.
"If I played s**t and got taken off after 10 minutes and Kerry won I'd have been a lot happier after the final whistle. Sport is about winning things, setting goals and achieving them and we were almost there.
"But it was a tricky year. I was happy with my performances all year in the league. I felt I was moving well and playing well. I played well in Munster against Limerick. I know we won it easily, but I played well in the Munster final against Cork as well.
"Then that next game against Limerick came and I don't know what happened. We went up early and stopped the game plan. Lads were able to go wherever they wanted, solo down the field and kick it over the bar.
"I felt like I missed the game, I wasn't competing for ball and then it came to the Mayo game. There were a few launched in early on, speculative enough, but I should still have got my paws on a few of them.
"It was a gammy game as well, but I was happy that I got a performance to help the team wherever I was, because that's what it's about. I don't care what people say about me after the game as long as Kerry win."
Donaghy, whose Austin Stacks club team were knocked out of the Kerry championship when they lost to Dr Crokes, is one of the 18 names on the International Rules squad so far confirmed for Australia, but admits that the doubt surrounding a number of potentially club-tied players isn't helping.
He has called for a moratorium on club games involving potential International Rules players to allow them to play for their country -- an aspiration unlikely to be realised unless radical changes to the way club and county games integrate during the summer are made.
"Fellas are put in poor positions. Darran (O'Sullivan) is in an awful position; he has a chance of a lifetime, a chance to go out and play for his country, but his club team (Mid Kerry) are in the semi-final.
"I think there should be some way, when it is on out in Australia, to maybe hold back the championships for the three weeks."