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“Donaghy can just sit in the stands and stop trying to wind us Kerry people up”

DARRAN O’SULLIVAN SUSPECTS the All-Ireland semi-final between Armagh and Kerry will be an “awkward affair” for Kieran Donaghy.

Former Kerry club player Darran O’Sullivan. Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE

Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

The 2006 Player of the Year is a former Kerry star forward but has been part of Kieran McGeeney’s coaching unit for three seasons. O’Sullivan, who was a team-mate of Donaghy during his Kerry career, says the last four inter-county clashes will be tough for the Austin Stacks man.

“Going into this game we’ll see a calmer Kieran Donaghy, maybe he’ll just sit in the stands and not try to wind us Kerry guys up. I think it’ll be awkward enough for him. He’s going in there, he’s got a job to do, he’s fully committed to Armagh.

“He’ll be going out there to try and win, he’s probably brought his personality to Armagh. From a player’s point of view, his presence there was definitely positive. I think McGeeney’s got a good backroom team with him, they’re all adding their own things.”

Donaghy also enjoyed a spell coaching at Galway Hurlers, as well as a stint as joint IT manager of Tralee alongside Liam Brosnan. O’Sullivan says each of these positions was another milestone in Donaghy’s coaching career, with a view to potentially becoming Kerry manager.

“I imagine his plan is to take over Kerry at some stage. Whether that’s a long haul or not, I think all the coaching jobs he’s taken on since he retired have been about getting as much experience as he can.

“Whether it’s straight after Jack, it may be too soon. Personally, I think Éamonn Fitzmaurice will be next in line. But I could be a million miles off. I think his aim was to gain experience in different types of coaching so he could be in the best possible position to take over Kerry at some point.”

Kerry’s quarter-final win over Derry was a hard-fought, side-line game, with top strikers David Clifford and Shane McGuigan holding a mere three-point advantage between them.

O’Sullivan believes it must be a difficult period for forwards as their skills are being undermined by the defensive game plans teams are employing.

“I would say he’s feeling quite bored. He’s probably a bit frustrated. He’s getting a lot of treatment off the ball. I can’t imagine it being a pleasant game for a striker at the moment.

“You play with your back to goal, there are a lot of players around you who don’t have the space to express themselves. I imagine that’s quite frustrating for any of the best strikers in the country.

“Every time you have the ball, you have four or five players knocking you down. And when you don’t have the ball, you have guys pulling and pulling and whatever else they do without the ball.”

Darran O’Sullivan was speaking at the launch of the AIB VIP Volunteer Competition, which offers volunteers from GAA clubs across Ireland the chance to win an exclusive match ticket to the All-Ireland SFC Final on the morning of 28th July.

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