Thursday 18 January 2018

O'Connor set to extend reign as Kingdom plan reconstruction

Jack O'Connor. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Jack O'Connor. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

JACK O'Connor is expected to remain on as Kerry football manager and may even sign up for the next three years.

However, he will have to replace selector Eamonn Fitzmaurice, who is stepping down after two seasons. Fitzmaurice explained that he thought it was a good time to take a break from his selector's role but is likely to return at some stage in the future.

Ger O'Keeffe will remain as a selector if O'Connor extends his term as manager, leaving a vacancy which could be filled by former star Seamus Moynihan.

An announcement is expected at the next meeting of the county board on Monday week.

County chairman Jerome Conway said that the squad would need to be reconstructed, meaning a short-term appointment would be in nobody's interest.

"We have some team building to do so we've got to put the right structure in place for that. We've still got the nucleus of a very good team but we'll have to build around it," he said.

O'Connor completed the second year of his second term this season, having previously been in charge from 2004 to 2006 -- during which they won two All-Ireland titles.

Kerry are facing a re-building programme, especially in defence, where Mike McCarthy, Tom O'Sullivan and Tommy Griffin are all in their early 30s and may not continue for another season.

It's understood that O'Connor has been sounding out members of this year's panel about their intentions for next year, suggesting he is ready to remain on board.

This was the first time for 36 years that Kerry were not represented in the All-Ireland semi-finals at senior, minor or U-21 level, leaving the country's most successful football county with some important stock-taking work.

However, they still have a very formidable senior squad -- indeed were it not for the absence of Paul Galvin and Tomas O Se due to suspension, they might well have beaten Down in the All-Ireland quarter-final and be preparing for a semi-final clash with Kildare on Sunday week.

There is some concern at the recent lack of success at underage level but improvements are expected in that area now that O'Connor will be heavily involved in a coaching role with vocational schools from next month.

Irish Independent

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