Tuesday 23 January 2018

Donaghy cuts Big Apple trip short to face table toppers

Kieran Donaghy is on the ball. Photo: Sportsfile
Kieran Donaghy is on the ball. Photo: Sportsfile

Barry Lennon

Kieran Donaghy has gone the distance for tonight's Tralee Warriors game, completing a 10,000km New York round-trip to make the fixture.

The 33-year-old paid the Big Apple a brief visit to promote his new book at the Irish consulate with fellow Kerry footballer Colm Cooper since last week's match.

The prospect of playing a home game against unbeaten league leaders Templeogue in front of a full house ensured his return - the rest of the travelling party are staying for the weekend

Despite the quick turnaround, coach Mark Bernsen insists he's not worried about Donaghy's absence as his record speaks for itself.

Earlier this season, Donaghy phoned the American boss with bad news. He'd picked up a knock playing for Austin Stacks against Dr Crokes and was due on court that night.

"He got kicked in the shin. He rang in the afternoon and he said 'coach, I don't think I can play. I'll come and support the team,'" Bernsen said.

"The game could have gone either way at the end. He then said 'I'll give it a go' and gave us a spurt that helped us in that game. That's just Kieran."

Bernsen compares him to film Semi-Pro, where Will Ferrell plays a singer who uses profits from his one-hit wonder to buy a basketball team, becoming owner, coach and starting power forward.

Santa Claus

Donaghy has helped merge two clubs and his profile has drawn crowds to the Sports Complex, which has been attracting more than the 1,000 it accommodates.

"We're going to lose a few tomorrow because Santa Claus is nearly here but there'll be a great crowd," said Bernsen. "We lost our sponsor but the support from the fans has got us through."

Local shop owner Thomas Garvey, a long-time supporter of the sport in the town, came on board to act as sponsors when Irish TV pulled out.

Warriors face a tough test tonight without Darragh O'Hanlon in maintaining their unbeaten home status.

They may struggle to match the firepower of Grenadian Super League veteran Michael Bonaparte and young gun Lorcan Murphy .

Donaghy is expected to be marked by Neil Randolph, brother of West Ham and Ireland goalkeeper Darren.

Irish Independent

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