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James O'Donoghue announces Kerry retirement

The 2014 Footballer of the Year and two-time All-Star has struggled with injury issues in recent years.

James O'Donoghue lifting the Sam Maguire in 2014.
James O'Donoghue lifting the Sam Maguire in 2014.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Updated Jan 25th 2022, 1:14 PM

KERRY STAR JAMES O’Donoghue has announced his inter-county retirement.

The 2014 Footballer of the Year and two-time All-Star confirmed his decision on Off The Ball’s The Football Pod.

O’Donoghue, 31, revealed he made up his mind when he stepped away from the panel last year, though the news was kept quiet through the Kingdom’s run to the All-Ireland semi-final, where they fell to eventual champions, Tyrone.

Doubts had been cast over his future, O’Donoghue having struggled with injury in recent years — though the 2014 All-Ireland winner confirmed his exit today.

“It’s all over, it’s all over bar the shouting,” he told OTB’s Tommy Rooney, and former Dublin star Paddy Andrews, who he joins as co-host of the podcast.

“Last year, I was fighting an uphill battle. Realistically, I stepped away from the panel just before the going got very serious because I wasn’t really contributing. I told them at that stage that I was retiring but because Kerry were going too well, we decided not to put out a statement and throw all the good vibes out of the camp. So we just kept it under wraps.

“It’s a painful one, it’s definitely something that’s going to be hard, but it’s the right thing.”

The Killarney Legion clubman burst onto the Kerry panel during the 2010 McGrath Cup, and went on to establish himself as one of the top forwards in the modern game.

james-odonoghue O'Donoghue on the ball in the 2015 final. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

O’Donoghue was simply scintillating from 2013 to 2015, in particular, winning his first All-Star in ’13 despite Kerry’s semi-final exit at the hands of Dublin — he scored 2-3 in that thrilling encounter — and his first and only All-Ireland in ’14 as the Kingdom overcame Donegal in the final. 

He was named Footballer of the Year and collected a second All-Star accolade that season after finishing the championship with an impressive 4-24 tally.

O’Donoghue again starred in 2015, though Kerry fell short to Dublin in the decider, and his long road of injury hell began thereafter.

He retires with eight Munster championships to his name; his last game for Kerry a league meeting with Galway in February 2020, where he scored 0-2 in the opening half before being replaced at half-time.

O’Donoghue also revealed he attempted a comeback for 2022, with Jack O’Connor in charge once again, but his “body wasn’t up to it”.

james-odonoghue In action for Killarney Legion in 2020. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“I know Jack well, very well and have always got on great with him, and I know that if I was right, I could have picked up the phone and rang him and said ‘I’m thinking about changing my mind, what do you think?’

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“I actually did give a go at getting into very good nick for it, just to see if I could give it one last go, but do you know what – my body wasn’t up to it. I’ll go back to the club now, tailor my programme and I guarantee you that I might not see another injury, just the slight drop in intensity might suit me.

“If I was right I could have picked up the phone and we’d have had a chat, but it just didn’t feel right.”

“You can’t keep doing this, you have to either get right, or get out,” he added.

He now replaces Andy Moran, the new Leitrim manager, on The Football Pod. You can listen to the full episode here >

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