Former Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice was on Friday’s OTB AM and spoke about James O’Donoghue’s struggles with injury.
O’Donoghue was injured in the Kingdom’s last match against Clare, scoring a goal and a point before coming off with a hamstring injury.
He will miss the Munster decider against Cork, with sitting out big games due to injury all too familiar for the Killarney Legion man.
“It’s very tough on him. That night in Ennis against Clare he really looked in very good physical shape. He backed himself, he played well.
"I was thinking to myself that if he gets this game under his belt it’s a huge positive for him and he’s a good lead-in to the Munster Final to get the body right,” Fitzmaurice said.
O’Donoghue was named Footballer of the Year in 2014 but since then his career has been seriously marred with injuries.
“Like you said it’s an accumulative effect that he’s getting these setbacks. He works very hard, he works very hard in the gym and his rehab.
“It’s disappointing for all concerned but James being James, he’s been there before. He’ll fight back, he’s no other choice," Fitzmaurice commented.
When Fitzmaurice was in charge of the Kerry senior team, he and the coaching staff did try limiting O’Donoghue’s game time in an effort to have him fit for the Championship. However, the man himself preferred to get a good league campaign under his belt.
“He always felt himself that getting a good league under his belt got his body ready and got him mentally ready for a proper assault in the Championship.
"That’s been his intention for the last couple of years but he’s picked up knocks at different stages and he’s never had that consistent run in the team where he really gets his mojo back.
“From a Kerry perspective we’d be hoping that once this injury clears up that he could get a consistent run in the Super 8s and we could see the James O’Donoghue of old then,” Fitzmaurice said.
Kerry’s chances this year
Fitzmaurice also commented on how he thought Kerry would perform this year and touched on how the players from Kerry’s 2014 Minor success should be ready to step up for the side.
“I think at this stage they have to be [at their physical prowess]. There can’t be any more excuses in that regard. The lads in particular who won the Minor All-Ireland in 2014, they’re 23 now at this stage and that’s a good age.
“Oftentimes it can take until that 22, 23-age mark to be fully ready to have those experiences under your belt just physically and experience-wise. I think a lot of those lads are now in a position to drive on,” Fitzmaurice explained.
The former Kerry manager was certain that Kerry wouldn’t be complacent coming up against Cork in the Munster Final, but did say he expects them to win by five points.
The game takes place in Pairc Ui Chaoimh this Saturday at 7pm, with Kerry looking to make it their seventh Munster title in a row.