Former Kerry manager Jack O'Connor during their All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Donegal. INPHO/Colm O'Neill
Leaving The Kingdom

Jack O'Connor: "It was a year that took its toll and that was definitely a factor in my decision."

The All-Ireland winning manager has explained the background behind his decision to depart from the helm of Kerry.

JACK O’CONNOR HAS revealed that the fallout from last September’s All-Ireland final loss overshadowed Kerry’s campaign this year and admitted that the difficulties the team had faced in 2012 did play a role in him choosing to step down as senior boss over the weekend.

There was intense speculation over O’Connor’s future since their All-Ireland quarter-final exit against Donegal and on Saturday it was confirmed that he had decided to bring an end to his tenure as manager. Speaking on Radio Kerry yesterday, O’Connor spoke of how his gut instinct lead him to believing it was the correct decision.

“I thought about it for a few days and as a management we met on Tuesday night, and we talked it over and then I met the chairman. He just told me to take my time and I had a couple of more days. On Saturday morning I woke up and said “that’s it”. It was a good way to do it rather than making a snap decision. I thought it over and I had a feeling in my gut it was the right thing to do.

“I found this year a tough year. There was a bit of a hangover from losing the All-Ireland final last year. That was a very tough defeat. It was one where we felt that we were in control of the game until events conspired against us. But I would take nothing away from the Dubs, they have had their tough years too and I like Pat Gilroy, I think he is a very good guy, very straight fellow. But it was a tough defeat to take.

“There was a lot of baggage trying to deal with the fall-out from that. I felt for a lot of this year I was finding it very, very hard to get the boys back where we needed them to be. We got a lot of satisfaction in the last four to six weeks when the boys turned that around and got back to where they needed to be. But it was a year that took its toll and that was definitely a factor in my decision.”

O’Connor does not subscribe to the theory that Kerry football is now entering a period of decline and believes the sensationalist nature of the media has fuelled such talk.

“I would not be overly worried. Kerry is different to other counties as club football here is strong and there is such a passion that players can come from relatively nowhere. Every father wants his son to play for Kerry and that is a hard thing to beat that kind of passion. I never tried to pander to the media and be all things to all men. The type of media that is out there at the moment, they like to sensationalise things and paint things in black and white.

“We were written off, this group of players, a couple of times before this year so I would not take a whole pile of notice of that. The nature of journalism now is to sensationalise things and you either get caught up in that or you just ignore and most of the time I ignored it. I wouldn’t even be too sure what they were saying about me.”

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