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There'll be no repeat of Seanie Johnston transfer saga under Cian O'Neill's watch

However, the new Kildare boss has not ruled out drafting in non-native players.

Seanie Johnston's transfer to Kildare won't be repeated says Cian O'Neill.
Seanie Johnston's transfer to Kildare won't be repeated says Cian O'Neill.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

NEW KILDARE MANAGER Cian O’Neill has ruled out any repeat of the Seanie Johnston transfer saga under his watch but isn’t against drafting in non-native players in the right circumstances.

In fact, Eanna O’Connor, son of Kerry managerial legend Jack, is currently training with the Kildare squad having transferred to club side Moorefield whom he won a county title with in 2014.

O’Neill said the likes of Brian Lacey, from Tipperary, and Cork’s Bryan Murphy are examples of non native players who have given fantastic service to Kildare over the years.

But in an apparent reference to the Johnston saga under Kieran McGeeney’s reign, O’Neill ruled out any move for a player who is simply being parachuted into the county from outside.

“I think if someone is living and playing in Kildare, which is important, and they want to play with Kildare, that’s certainly something to look at,” said O’Neill. “But I think in terms of parachuting someone in, no I wouldn’t be a strong advocate of that.

“But there have been great examples, look at Bryan Murphy. He moved up to Dawn Farms in Naas in the 80s, he was living in Kildare and playing with Clane and he’s been one of the single greatest factors why Kildare underage has been so successful in recent years because of the time and effort he has put in.

“Lacey has been involved with the U-21s and he played with Towers so these were guys that immersed themselves in Kildare so it was a no brainer that they were going to be brought in. If there were players like that and they wanted to train and win with Kildare, you’d have to consider them. But if it was for another reason, that wouldn’t be my thing.”

Eanna O'Connor Eanna O'Connor is now training with Kildare. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

O’Neill said that former Kerry underage talent O’Connor is currently dealing with a number of injuries but is part of the panel and is training.

“He’s going well,” said O’Neill.

Eanna has a couple of injuries and there are a few players who have what I call legacy injuries, injuries they brought in from this season or from the club scene, so he’s working hard. He’s being held back a little by injuries but he’s in training with us, yeah.”

O’Neill, who gave up his role as coach with All-Ireland finalists Kerry to take over from Jason Ryan in Kildare, is working with an extended panel that he will cut back in the coming weeks.

He said that ’95%’ of those who were involved in the past couple of seasons have returned though declined to name the five per cent that didn’t come back. Well known players including Darroch Mulhall and Tomas O’Connor opted off the panel at different stages under Ryan.

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O’Neill said he doesn’t believe his inherited panel has any psychological scarring from a couple of difficult seasons under Ryan that yielded back to back Allianz league relegations and huge Championship defeats last summer to Kerry and Dublin.

But he conceded that he won’t be able to answer that question for sure until they are placed in a similarly testing scenario in 2016.

“Llisten, until you’re in a quagmire and you’re four points down with six minutes to go, you’re not really going to know how your players are going to respond or if they’re thinking back on what happened last year but, at the moment, it certainly hasn’t been brought up,” said O’Neill.

“We’re on the pitch since last Tuesday and every session has been excellent, high tempo, high application, attitude is great so there’s no evidence of that.”

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