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'They’re definitely back': Cooper and Donaghy on board with Kerry for 2017

Donnchadh Walsh says the veteran duo are part of the squad for the coming season.
Jan 24th 2017, 6:05 AM 3,885 0

KERRY FORWARD DONNCHADH Walsh believes there won’t be any more retirements in the Kingdom this spring.

Aidan O’Mahony, 36, announced yesterday his decision to step away from the inter-county game after a glittering career which delivered five All-Ireland titles.

Colm Cooper and Kieran Donaghy, both 33, were also thought to be considering their futures, but Walsh is confident the veteran attackers are part of Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s plans for 2017.

“They’re definitely back as far as I can see,” Walsh said yesterday at the Allianz Football League Launch. “You don’t like that uncertainty so it is a good boost.

“I’m fairly confident that will be it. We’ll be putting the head down and knowing the numbers we have for the rest of the year.”

Walsh feels Fitzmaurice’s decision to remain in charge was critical in avoiding further retirements.

“I think so. Every player inside there is very happy that Eamonn has stayed on for another few years. He has massive respect. He has built a very good management team around him. I think there would have been (more retirements), yes.”

Fitzmaurice indicated at the beginning of January he’d give his elder statesmen until the end of the month to decide whether they’d be staying on or not.

O’Mahony is the second Kerry defender to retire since the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin last August, with Marc O Sé also departing the scene.

Donnchadh Walsh 23/1//2017 Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

It’s a significant loss of experience for the Kerry squad. Between them the duo have won 10 All-Irelands and five All-Stars in the green and gold.

Only Cooper, Donaghy, Killian Young, Darran O’Sullivan and Bryan Sheehan remain intact from the great Kerry side who completed back-to-back All-Irelands in 2007.

Walsh, who’ll turn 33 in July, isn’t concerned about a lack of leaders in the Kerry dressing-room.

“The whole ethos in the dressing room and the culture that Eamonn (instilled) has grown over the number of years. It’s up to the players to be the leaders.

“As good as Aidan or Marc were, we have plenty of leaders in the dressing room. I don’t think we’ll be found wanting in that regard.”

Donal O’Neill is tackled by Aidan O’Mahony and Donnchadh Walsh O'Mahony and Walsh tackle Galway's Donal O'Neill in the 2014 All-Ireland quarter-final Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

O’Mahony’s decision to retire did come as a surprise to Walsh, who felt he had another year in the legs.

“I’ve met him in the gym the last couple of weeks,” he said. “He’s obviously still in incredible shape and it looked like he was maintaining it to give it another year. So (it was) a bit of a surprise alright.

“He probably had made his mind up a while ago, I’m not too sure what his thinking process around it was. Physically he could have given it another year but obviously you need to be fully committed to it mentally as well then.

“There was no problem in his physical ability to go on another year but he’s decided against it.”

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