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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 25 January, 2020

'I know it was a contentious decision. Would I have given a penalty? I am not sure.'

The Kerry forward saw his side get a stroke of luck in the drawn game and then they capitalised in the replay.

James O'Donoghue and Mark Collins challenge for the ball during the drawn Munster final.
James O'Donoghue and Mark Collins challenge for the ball during the drawn Munster final.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

HE DIDN’T GET on the scoresheet until striking the final point of the game last Saturday but James O’Donoghue had already made a critical scoring impact in making sure Kerry claimed a third successive Munster trophy.

Kerry seized their chance in the provincial replay but in the drawn game, needed O’Donoghue’s intervention from the penalty spot to rescue them at a time when their challenge was on the rocks.

O’Donoghue spoke about that contentious decision for the first time when he was at the launch yesterday at his club Killarney Legion of this year’s All-Ireland senior football championship.

The 2014 Footballer of the Year freely admitted Kerry’s fortune in being awarded the penalty and revealed how he had to mentally focus before the kick amidst the storm of Cork complaints to match officials.

“If you take your mind of the penalty, you are going to miss it. I went down (and) was thinking ‘he could give a free here’. It ended up being inside the box.

“I had probably two minutes between the penalty been given and hitting it. It is a concentration thing, you have to tune in and don’t let anyone get inside your head, don’t let anyone get inside your ear and just make sure that you put the penalty away.

Mark Collins of Cork reacts Cork's Mark Collins reacts to the drawn game penalty decision Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“I know it was a contentious decision. Would I have given a penalty? I am not sure. There was a coming together and the referee had a decision to make. It was very 50/50. One team can be lucky and the other unlucky there. Either way it was always going to be a tough call.

“At that time, we were three-points down. It wasn’t panic stations by any means. I think we would have tipped on a few points if we hadn’t got the penalty. It is a nice boost to get a goal when you are down because it completely flips it.

“They did the same thing, Barry O’Driscoll came down and got a goal against us. It is a big momentum shifter to get a goal when you are losing.”

GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Series 2015 Launch James O'Donoghue at the 2015 All-Ireland senior football launch Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

O’Donoghue is a dependable figure for Kerry from the penalty spot. That recent conversion came on the back of a similar effort against Dublin in 2013 and a pair of penalties last August against Mayo.

“I practice them a small bit in training. It is a mental kind of thing. They can be tough.

“They are always difficult because goalkeepers are so good at the moment. You just have to put the head down and pick your side.

“If he saves it, he saves it. You can’t put yourself under too much pressure.”

Kerry got the job done at the second attempt on Saturday night with a controlled display.

It was an extremely difficult night for players with the weather conditions. O’Donoghue did not feel visibility was a problem during the game but was adamant that extra-time could not have been played at Fitzgerald Stadium.

James OÕDonoghue celebrates scoring a late point James O'Donoghue celebrates scoring a late point in the rain last Saturday Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“There was no issue during the game, it was okay. It was getting a bit grey and the rain was tough in terms of seeing too far in front of you.

“I don’t think the darkness was too bad, but there certainly wouldn’t have been extra-time played.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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