'He had the instant respect of the squad' - All-Ireland winning Kerry boss settling in at Kildare helm

Jack O’Connor was appointed as the new manager of the Lilywhites earlier this year.

Jack O'Connor succeeded Cian O'Neill in Kildare this year.
Jack O'Connor succeeded Cian O'Neill in Kildare this year.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

KILDARE STAR KEVIN Feely says their new manager Jack O’Connor “had the instant respect of the squad” following his appointment.

The former Kerry boss, who guided the Kingdom to three All-Ireland SFC crowns over two separate spells in charge, succeeded Cian O’Neill at the helm with Kildare earlier this year.

O’Connor’s appointment was well received in Kildare at the time, as he brings a wealth of success to the role. In addition to the trio of Sam Maguire triumphs, he has also steered Kerry minor sides to All-Ireland glory in the past.

Midfielder Feely says the squad’s pre-season work is already underway after returning to training in the last few weeks. They also played a match last weekend.

Their first impressions of the Kerry native have certainly been positive so far.

Sometimes its nice to just freshen things up altogether and he’s a big change in that regard. He brings so much experience and he had the instant respect of the squad from what he’s done in the game already and stuff like that.

“That wasn’t an issue, respect. And then his training sessions have been a breath of fresh air, lads seem to be really, really enjoying them, although most of them are running at the moment. Pre-season stuff tends to be like that.”

Prior to coming on board, O’Connor had already developed a connection with club football in Kildare through his sons Eanna and Cian who play for Moorefield. 

upmc-gaagpa-launch Kevin Feely says the new Kildare manager has an infectious enthusiasm about football. Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

That link has enabled O’Connor to develop an insight into how football is played in the Leinster county, although Feely adds that O’Connor still maintained a certain distance from the local club scene as well.

The Athy player added that the Kerry native’s enthusiasm for football is infectious and has contributed to their their pre-season training as the 2020 season looms.

That’s one of the first things you notice when you meet him. He’s obsessed with football and it rubs off on you so much. It’s total enthusiasm. He would happily talk about football all day long with you.

“He’s really able to relate to every situation that every player has come across because he’s seen it all before, which is really good.

“There’s definitely huge enthusiasm in there at the moment, probably driven from the fact that there are so many new lads in the panel as well. With the guys who were there last year, there’s a real feeling that we need to rectify what went wrong last year as well.

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“We didn’t have a great year, the players would have felt that we let ourselves down a good bit as well so there’s enthusiasm from the new lads and then there’s a determination from the lads that have been there to rectify the errors of previous years as well.”

Kevin Feely was speaking at the announcement of UPMC as Official Healthcare Partner to the GAA/GPA. UPMC will work with the GAA/GPA to promote the health of Gaelic Players and the communities in which they play.

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