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the toughest

Surgery fear puts James O'Donoghue in doubt for Kerry's 2016 league campaign

“I’m sick of getting surgery but if it is the only way forward, I’ll have to do it.”

Updated 11.50

KERRY ACE JAMES O’Donoghue fears that he will he need to go back under the knife for surgery on a recurring shoulder injury.

Depending on the timing, the former Footballer of the Year could miss the entire league campaign again next year in what would be a significant blow to Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s plans.

But O’Donoghue reassured Kingdom fans that the problem is manageable and insisted that “it is not a big issue in my head at the moment.”

The Allstar forward, 25, has struggled with shoulder issues on-and-off since he was 17 and had an operation last November in an attempt to solve the problem.

He sat out the 2015 league to recover and returned for the championship, but then suffered another setback during Kerry’s All-Ireland quarter-final hammering of Kildare.

He was fit enough to play in both the All-Ireland semi-final and final but now accepts that further surgery is the most likely course at some point in the future.

“I’m managing it,” he said yesterday at the launch of the AIB GAA Club Championships.

“Obviously I was hoping I’d have no more issues after the operation last year but that didn’t go to plan.

“I think I can manage it fine. Whether I get another surgery or not, I don’t know. I’m sick of getting surgery but if it is the only way forward, I’ll have to do it.

“But at the moment I haven’t decided. It depends on how I get on with the club. Hopefully we can keep that run going and avoid surgery but I don’t know.”

There are only two real options on the table, O’Donoghue said, and ultimately an operation will rule him out for six to seven months.

“Can you mind it and not get surgery, or do you just bite the bullet and get it again?

The final act for me with the shoulder will be surgery again, whether it is this year or not.

“So do I get it this year or leave it off? I don’t know. It depends on how I go in the next couple of weeks.”

Those next couple of weeks are fully focused on the club as O’Donoghue and Killarney Legion try to win the Kerry senior football title for only the second time, bridging a gap that stretches 69 years back to 1946.

In Sunday’s semi-final they face a Rathmore side, fresh from toppling kingpins Dr Crokes, which includes a couple of familiar faces in Aidan O’Mahony, Paul Murphy and Tom O’Sullivan.

AIB GAA Club Championships Launch James O'Donoghue was speaking at the launch of the AIB GAA Club Championships on Tuesday. Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

O’Donoghue fired in a hattrick in a three-point win over Kerins O’Rahilly’s last weekend and it is thoughts of a long overdue county title, rather than his shoulder, that are occupying him now.

“In fairness I didn’t do the club any favours last year because I decided to get the operation. We had already lost in the county championship so we couldn’t have gone any further but we were still in a couple of other competitions.

“I said, ‘Look lads, I’m going to get the surgery,’ and obviously there were a few lads disappointed I didn’t play on but I had to do that for myself.

“So maybe this year I kind of owe it back to the club to battle on.

We could be out of championship on Sunday and I won’t owe them anything then. I won’t say I owe them but would love for the Legion to do something special this year, especially after disappointment of the summer.

“We are a tiny club. We won the intermediate senior in 2005. Before that, I don’t know, we have barely won anything at all so to have a chance to win a county championship is a huge thing for us.

“I wouldn’t even think of going to Christmas. If we get to three weeks and get to the final, it would be a big thing for us and then I can fit in the surgery afterwards.

“It is not a big issue in my head at the moment, so I’m not worried about it.”

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