Former Kerry Footballer of the Year James O’Donoghue has confirmed his retirement from the inter-county game, while Austin Stack midfielder Joe O’Connor is tipped to be named as captain of the Kingdom footballers for the new season.
Legion club man O’Donoghue confirmed his decision in an interview with Off The Ball, where he will co-host The Football Pod for the 2022 campaign alongside former Dublin star Paddy Andrews.
The double All-Star left the Kerry squad last season due to persistent injury. And he revealed he had toyed with the idea of forcing his way back into Jack O’Connor’s set-up for 2022 before his body failed him.
“It’s all over, it’s all over bar the shouting," he reflected.
"Last year, I was fighting an uphill battle. Realistically, I stepped away from the panel just before the going got very serious because I wasn’t really contributing. I told them at that stage that I was retiring, but because Kerry were going too well, we decided not to put out a statement and throw all the good vibes out of the camp. So we just kept it under wraps.
"It’s a painful one, it’s definitely something that’s going to be hard, but it’s the right thing," he said.
“I know Jack well, very well and have always got on great with him, and I know that if I was right, I could have picked up the phone and rang him and said ‘I’m thinking about changing my mind, what do you think?’
“I actually did give a go at getting into very good nick for it, just to see if I could give it one last go, but do you know what - my body wasn’t up to it, just that the way it is.
"I’ll go back to the club now, tailor my programme and I guarantee you that I might not see another injury, just the slight drop in intensity might suit me. If I was right, I could have picked up the phone and we’d have had a chat, but it just didn’t feel right.”
Meanwhile, Kerry champions Stacks are to put forward O’Connor’s name for ratification as the county’s captain next Monday night.
Kerry persist with the tradition of allowing county champions to nominate the county captain and Stacks have chosen midfielder O’Connor, who was also part of the set-up under Peter Keane last year.
“The captaincy is something that will be discussed between Austin Stacks and the County Board,” manager Jack O’Connor said.
“It is irrelevant the way I feel about it because that is the system. I am a pragmatist and there is no point in me getting excited about it, sure you cannot have everything you like. That’s the system and it’s stood Kerry well in the past and until that is changed, that is good enough for me”
O’Connor is carrying a knock, but a recent rule change means the county manager and chairman can choose the stand-in captain. Seán O’Shea lifted the McGrath cup when Kerry beat Cork in the final last weekend.
The Kingdom face O’Connor’s old side Kildare in Newbridge in their league opener on Sunday.