Kerry manager Jack O’Connor will extend an immediate invitation to some of their absentees to return to action ahead of next weekend’s visit to Tralee by Dublin after being held to a draw by Kildare in Newbridge yesterday.
But O’Connor, who vacated the Kildare managerial position just weeks before his appointment in Kerry for a third time last September, won’t have Stefan Okunbor available for some time after he suffered a suspected shoulder dislocation during Na Gaeil’s All-Ireland intermediate club semi-final defeat to Derry city club Steelstown on Saturday.
That game had to be delayed by up to 20 minutes as he was removed to hospital and he now looks set to miss the remainder of the league with his championship also in doubt.
Kerry were missing their three primary midfielders for the game in Newbridge – David Moran, Diarmuid O’Connor and Jack Barry, as well as Okunbor. It told as Kildare, through Kevin Feely and Kevin Flynn, dominated in the second half.
O’Connor hopes to see Barry and O’Connor back for the weekend’s centrepiece Allianz league match.
“It’s tough luck on him. I tried to message him but he didn’t get back to me,” said O’Connor of the former Geelong recruit. “We’re down a few midfielders at the moment obviously and we don’t really have any of our first-choice midfielders available up to now. The boys are doing a decent job there, Seánie (O’Shea) and Adrian (Spillane), but hopefully for the game next week we’ll have a couple of Na Gaeil boys back.”
O’Connor figured that Kerry were without seven or eight players and wasn’t happy with their second-half performance, especially up front as old failings in a close match resurfaced.
“We think we’ll improve when we have the full panel back. This game will bring us on. This was a real game.”
While Kerry got a point in Newbridge, Dublin were chastened by the weight of their five-point loss to Armagh in Croke Park where they were losing back-to-back games for the first time since the 2009 league opener against Tyrone.
Meanwhile, Oisín Mullin could be back in a Mayo match-day squad next weekend for the first time since turning his back on a Aussie Rules career.
Mullin’s AFL U-turn, turning down a rookie contract offer from the Geelong Cats, was greeted with widespread relief in Mayo earlier this month.
And relief was the prime Mayo emotion as they rescued a 0-11 apiece draw against Donegal, courtesy of a pressure free from ’keeper Rob Hennelly in the dying seconds.
Mullin wasn’t involved nor was Lee Keegan, a late cry-off. Afterwards, looking ahead to next Sunday’s trip to face Monaghan, James Horan revealed: “Oisín will be in contention; Enda (Hession) will be in contention; Lee will be in contention; Mark Moran is going very, very well; David McBrien is going very well as well so they’re pushing.”