'I’d say there’s a few young fellas on the panel who are thinking, ‘Will he not just f*ck off?’'

Kieran Donaghy was speaking about his future after picking up the eir Sports Book of the Year award.

2016 IS ALMOST in the rearview mirror, but Kieran Donaghy’s future in a Kerry jersey remains a mystery.

The four-time All-Ireland senior medallist continues to mull over his possible retirement, although he appears no closer to making a call on the matter.

Kieran Donaghy Kieran Donaghy's 'What Do You Think of That', was announced as the eir Sport Sports Book of The Year. As the winner, Kieran will receive a €1,500 cash prize, a specially commissioned trophy and €10,000 worth of TV advertising on the eir Sport channels. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

For the time being, Donaghy is happy to focus on basketball, family and work. He was in Dublin today to pick up the eir Sports Book of the Year award for his autobiography, What Do You Think Of That? There’s plenty to keep him occupied.

“Eamonn (Fitzmaurice) hasn’t given me any deadline anyway,” Donaghy said. “The understanding we have is to play away with the basketball and see how the body is and see how I am physically.

And mentally too because there’s days I wake up and I’m just thinking that the gig is up. And there’s mornings then that I wake up and go, ‘maybe I can give it another year.’

“It would be great if it was just a footballing thing. if it was a footballing thing, you could go back every time. But there’s so much going on now. I’m travelling over and back to the UK with work, I’m up and down the country.

“I’m doing a good bit of driving and that’s not good for me. And a lot of the driving is going on now because I just couldn’t do it during the season.

“So there’s that. There’s (my wife) Hillary (and my daughter) Lola-Rose. There’s the basketball. There’s loads going on. To be honest, I planned on probably announcing something around when the book came out. But I literally don’t have a clue what I’m going doing.”

Cian OÕSullivan and Kieran Donaghy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The pressure to announce a decision came on from his book publishers, but Donaghy wasn’t for budging.

He admits he started writing the book, which was ghost-written by Kieran Shannon, in 2014 thinking he’d be retired by the time it was released. Then the Kerry captaincy dropped on his lap after Austin Stacks won the county final the same year. He couldn’t pass that up.

“I’m at this a few years now, coming and going. I’d say there’s a few young fellas on the panel who are thinking, ‘Will he not just f*ck off?’ I know in 2014, I was gone.

You get that from the book, I felt like I was gone. Time was up, I was out of favour, my form wasn’t good and I was struggling with a bad injury. I wasn’t ready for the scrapheap but there were good young players coming along.

“But then the Stacks won the championship, which was  unbelievable but in Kerry that means you’re captain and I was the only fella in the squad so there was no way I could miss that opportunity  so I had to go back for ’15.

“I was obviously delighted to go back but we lost a tough All-Ireland in ’15 and I wanted to go again. You always wants to go again it is so difficult because you are giving up what you are used to for the last 12 years and a lifestyle that you have been used to and Munster finals and big days in Croke Park.

“I’m 33 now. I’m going to be watching – with the god’s help – games in Croke Park until I’m 83 so touch wood I have 50 years of watching games. So maybe there’ll be 49 years of watching games and maybe one more playing.

I was listening to Newstalk yesterday and they were saying play as long as you can. Andy Lee was there and he was saying you can’t box for as long as you can, but you should play as long as you can.”

On the same show, Lee also spoke about his regret at not retiring while he was world champion. To draw a comparison between boxing and GAA, Donaghy clearly wants to go out on a winning note. To scale that mountain one more time.

“If I didn’t think we’d a legitimate chance at winning the All-Ireland it would probably be a much easier call.

“It certainly is harder to walk away when you know there’s a chance your teammates could go on to win the All-Ireland. Of course you’d be sitting up there thick with yourself that you didn’t go back and do another winter of slog and put in all the effort.”

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Maurice Fitzgerald Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

In the close-season, Fitzmaurice has added legendary figure Maurice Fitzgerald to his backroom team for 2017. The 33-year-old never shared a dressing room with Fitzgerald before, but did mark him during a club game in his younger days.

“I played against him, didn’t play with him. I just came in a year or two after he left. (I)  would have loved to play with him.

“At the time I was marking him it was nearly a boast of mine that I’d marked him. I was loving it. Even though they beat us and he probably beat me in the end, but we went to battle and we were hopping off each other.

“That was the first day I said there’s more to this fella than meets the eye. I had him in my head as a skilful footballer but he could put a knee in your back and he’d put an elbow into your cheekbone if you were horsing with him. Just a class act.

He was my hero as a kid. He’s got a great way about him and he’ll be just great to have around the place.  Everybody thinks he’s just this kind of quiet kind or reserved guy, but he’s actually quite funny, quite engaging, very intelligent and he has a great football brain.

“So he will definitely help and it’ll be great for Kerry to have him on board. The forwards will have no excuse next year with Liam Hassett, Mikey Sheehy and Maurice Fitz. If they’re not shooting the lights out there’s something wrong.”

What Do You Think Of That? is out now, €18.99

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Kevin O'Brien

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