Thursday 14 December 2017

‘Fixture chaos KO’d James O’Donoghue’ - Tadhg Kennelly slams congested fixture list

Kennelly says Kerry logjam didn't allow star time to recover

Kerry star James O'Donoghue faces at least four months out of action after he popped his left shoulder. Sportsfile
Kerry star James O'Donoghue faces at least four months out of action after he popped his left shoulder. Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Tadhg Kennelly has slammed Kerry's recent fixture crisis and believes James O'Donoghue's expected injury absence until next summer could have been avoided.

The 2014 Footballer of the Year requires a second shoulder surgery, this time on his left side, after dislocating it during Legion's defeat to South Kerry in the Kerry SFC final replay.

Speaking at the AFL Europe Talent Combine in DCU yesterday, 2009 All-Ireland winner Kennelly felt that this latest injury could have been avoided had O'Donoghue been free to get remedial work completed on his problematic shoulder in the autumn.

"We need to look at the scheduling of games," Kennelly said.

"There's always going to be a part of the decision that if you're James O'Donoghue you'd love to have been able to go 'All-Ireland finished, done. Getting cleaned out and I'll be ready to go again at the end of the league'.

"Now he's come into Christmas and he still hasn't had surgery. He'll probably miss the entire league and that goes back to your club scheduling and games that he has to play.

"I'm sure if he had a decision and he had no club games, now I'm not saying he doesn't play, but I'm just saying he could say ,'I need to get myself right so I can move on'."

The 25-year-old injured his shoulder in Kerry's quarter-final win over Kildare in August but managed to see out the year with the help of heavy strapping and regular physio treatment.

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O'Donoghue is looking at a possible Munster final return, if Kerry get there, with Kennelly insisting his loss will hugely impact on Gaelic football's appeal next season.

The former AFL Premiership winner also raised doubts about the increasing demands on underage sensations like double All-Ireland minor winner Mark O'Connor.

"That's probably the disappointing thing for a Gaelic football admirer. You don't want to see the best players injured, you want to see them out there playing.

"But it's a nasty injury and it's going to take time to get it right," he said.

Kennelly said: "How do you actually fix the demands on guys like Mark O'Connor? He's 18 and has played in four All-Ireland finals in two years. And now he's going straight now into U-21 and maybe might get into the Kerry panel. All of a sudden he's 20 and then he's going, 'Whoa, I haven't had a break'.

"There's a lot of players here that are playing college, that are playing university, they're playing with their club, county in the months of December and January and not getting much of a break.

"I find that very difficult to understand. Your body needs a break and if you don't it's going to come back and bite you in the arse."

Earlier this week in the Irish Independent, Kerry County Board secretary Peter Twiss hit back at criticism directed at officials after the fixture difficulties in the county last month but it seems this problem is likely to rumble on.

Meanwhile, Kennelly has backed Tipperary's Colin O'Riordan to make waves Down Under after he commenced training as part of his rookie contract with the Sydney Swans.

"He's one that you look at physically and you go, 'He's a Gaelic footballer, he's a hurler that's physically fine' but his mental capability is incredible.

"He's a young fella that you would use as a model for any Irish player trying to make it over there," he said.

"His ability to never say no and get it done is incredible. He's one of the toughest kids mentally that I've ever come across and his ability to deal with some of the hard stuff is incredible.

"He's made a massive impression in the club so far. That's all you want when you're going over as an overseas player - to get the respect of the people that you're playing with, that's why you play football and that's what Colin has done."

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