Irish sport’s worst kept secret is out. Jack O’Connor has returned for a third stint as Kerry senior football manager. Once again, the Dromad Pearses clubman has brought Diarmuid Murphy and Mike Quirke as part of his backroom team.
O’Connor recently left Kildare in the lurch, heading for where the pale moon was rising even though he had another year on his term with the all whites. What’s even more surprising is that he would depart having just guided them back into the top division of the National League.
Look, the “Allure” of the Kerry job, as O’Connor described it, is obvious at any time, but most especially at the minute with the precocity of talent in the county. But given the ‘baggage’ which is an intrinsic part of Kerry football, you’d wonder why he’d want the hassle. He certainly has nothing to prove to anyone. Nor does he owe anybody anything.
Remember, none other than the late, great Paidi O’Se took his leave of his hometown hotseat after describing elements of the Kerry following as ‘F*****g animals’. But at the same time, surely the question must be asked as to how the ‘politics’ of Kerry GAA operate.
Naturally, given phenomenal amount of success they have engineered for themselves throughout the history of the Association, their beatification as the aristocracy thereof is both understandable and merited.
However, there is no longer the chasm between them and the rest which was a hallmark of them in their pomp under Mick O’Dwyer. Not even after the astounding run of success at underage level for part of the last decade.
If anything, this season proved that they have at best stagnated or possibly even regressed a bit. The latter may seem a bit outlandish given that they have won the last two National League Div. 1 titles and two of the last three Munster titles.
To any other county with the possible exception of Dublin, the above would be considered an admirable accumulation of silverware. Paidi must have had reason to say what he did. Let’s be honest, Peter Keane has been a dead man walking the green and gold mile from the time the final whistle blew in the game against Tyrone.
Which to this observer is utterly scandalous. Not only because of the most recent successes mentioned above but also the pivotal role Peter played in the moulding of players such as David Clifford and Sean O’Shea. At the very least, his defenstration smacks of disrespect and unfairness.
You suspect the SuperValu man knew his goose was cooked from the time chiefs in his erstwhile fifedom appointed a committee to handle the situation. That, from the view in this seat, was unwarranted enough without what actually transpired.
It’s worth recalling that Sean Boylan was four years in situ with Meath before achieving a significant breakthrough. Or that Brian Cody has currently gone longer without bringing Liam back Noreside.
It’s probably the case that whenever a managerial vacancy occurs – sporting or otherwise – that there will be ‘decoy’ runners in the race. And outlandish proposed tickets linked with the job.
That notwithstanding, the late emergence of Stephen Stack as an interested party in the position was a real head turner. Primarily due to the star studded lineup he was reportedly assembling to work alongside him. Luminaries including Mickey Ned O’Sullivan, Seamus Moynihan, Donie Buckley and Dara O’Cinneide.
Yerra, I can but think of words uttered following the untimely passing of the unique and irreplaceable Myles Fahey, the unusual was very much the usual response. Jack is back in the hotseat but he will be acutely aware the bacon slicer is kept permanently greased!