IT’s hard to imagine how the next year can go better for Kieran Donaghy than 2014 did.
He starts the year, with a 4th All-Ireland medal, county and Munster medals for Stacks and the Kerry captaincy that comes with those successes.
It’s a cruel irony that the performances that won him the captaincy, will now keep him out for at least two games of the national league because of All-Ireland club commitments with the Rock.
“I’d love to be out there playing for the first day of the league, but you have to give the team that’s in the most serious stage of competition the benefit,” said Kieran Donaghy at the press conference last Friday, ahead of Sunday’s national league opener against Mayo in Killarney.
“It’s unfortunate. I’m looking at it now that I’m going to miss two league games and if fellas start well you could be fighting an uphill battle the rest of the year to get your place back in the team!” he said.
“To have the honour to lead this county for the next 12 months is quite remarkable. I tried not to think about the captaincy going into the county final because I’d have another depressing think about if we lost,” said Kieran.
“I wasn’t one of those talented fellas who was scoring 1-8 in county minor finals or anything. I was playing in a minor final when I was 17 and almost getting in the way at full-forward. So to go on and play senior football for Kerry was a huge achievement for me in my career. And obviously to go on and captain this great county is an unbelievable honour,” he said.
“I would be doing a fair bit of barking around the place anyway, so it’s not going to change me that much,” he said.
This new season has Kerry followers licking their lips at the prospect of Tommy Walsh returning to the fold after five years down Australia with the AFL.
“I’m mad about Tommy. It’s great to have him back. I’m mad about him as a fella and as a footballer, he’s a great person to have around the dressing room as well,” said Kieran.
“He’s not in it for himself, he’s in it for the team. And he’s already shown us a bit of inspiration because he could have got another contract with another team and hung out around out there making money, but he wants to come home and give it a real go. He’s shown that to us already inside in training with the way he has approached it. He’ll be a great addition to us because he can play in numerous of positions, far away from full forward!” said Kieran.
“He’s in frightening shape at the moment, but he’s not going to come in and set the world alight early on. From what I’ve seen so far it won’t take him long,” he said.
• Kerry play Mayo in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney on Sunday at 2pm.