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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 15 April 2021
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'I've huge respect for the Gooch, he's our main man' - James O'Donoghue

The Kerry forward was embarrassed by recent comments on The Sunday Game.

The GAA/GPA All-Stars sponsored by Opel are delighted to announce James O'Donoghue, Kerry as the Player of the Month for July in football.
The GAA/GPA All-Stars sponsored by Opel are delighted to announce James O'Donoghue, Kerry as the Player of the Month for July in football.
Image: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE

WHEN THE SUNDAY GAME analyst Martin McHugh described Colm Cooper as a ‘two trick pony’ and said he believed that James O’Donoghue was the better player, Ireland – and particularly Twitter – sat up and took notice.

In fairness to McHugh, the point he was trying to make is that he has been very impressed with the performances of the Killarney Legion man but it has done O’Donoghue – who was yesterday named July’s Opel GAA/GPA Player of the Month for football – no favours, especially online.

So when he was asked at the announcement of the award if he was, in fact, a better player than the Gooch, O’Donoghue was predictably reticent in reply.

“I don’t know how to answer that. I don’t know why Martin McHugh said that. I think he was trying to give me a compliment but he brought the Gooch into it out of the blue.

“I don’t know what he was trying to do but he did me no favours anyway…on Twitter.

He does admit he was flattered McHugh thought he was “the most exciting player I’ve seen in Gaelic football for a long, long time,” but would rather comparisons with his team-mate had not been made.

“The first half of it, I was [flattered]. And then he said the Gooch and I was thinking: ‘don’t say that…Jeez.’

“Look, it’s nice to get a compliment like that on The Sunday Game. But, obviously, down in Kerry, we have huge respect for the Gooch. He’s our main man.

“And as for two trick pony, I think it just came out of his mouth before he had time to think about it.”

O’Donoghue tried to ignore the furore caused by the remarks. He was, afterall, not responsible for them, but he found it difficult to get away from them.

“I tried to keep away from it. People write to you on Twitter saying: ‘you’re not as good as the Gooch.’ And I’m like ‘I know! I didn’t say it!’

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“They’re quick to throw in a bit of abuse. But look, it’s a thing that I try to keep away from and not really comment on it. But all I could say is, everyone around the country has huge time for the Gooch.

“I don’t think he deserved to be criticised out of the blue for no reason.”

The 2013 All-Star also believes it was unfair of McHugh to suggest he was in anyway carrying this Kerry team through the championship.

“It’s not true really. We have a system of play that allows the ball to go in fast to us. Sometimes, it’s the inside forwards who do all the scoring for us.

“And sometimes, it’s the players outside. The last two games, it’s been us inside that have done a bit of damage and we’ve got a bit of praise over it.

“But the next day, hopefully, the midfielders and forwards can kick all the scores and we can have a quiet day.”

And O’Donoghue, one of just two Kerry players – the other being Connie Murphy in 1989 – to win an All-Star before winning Sam Maguire, recommended a simple strategy for ignoring the fuss.

“I disappeared off Twitter.

“Every so often, you have to keep away from things because people want to talk to you about it but I’m better off staying away from it and and keeping training.

“What really matters to us is everyone’s opinion of one another inside the four walls of the dressing-room. There’s no egos or no comparisons in there.”

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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