Posted by Mickey Harte
Friday 17 August 2012
It’s not that surprising to see Jack O’Connor stepping down as Kerry boss. He had a year to go and you would have felt earlier in the year he would’ve seen that out.
It was a disappointing season from a Kerry perspective when you consider the standard they have set for themselves. They want to be in finals every year and it’s only the second time in the last ten years’ they’ve gone out at the quarter-final stage.
It’s all relative, though. For many people that would be a huge success. O’Connor’s record is immense. However, he must have felt he’d given it enough and that a transition needs to take place within the county.
There has been some turnover of players but maybe it’s more of a long-term project to get them back to where they were. Having said that, it would be foolish to think that this Kerry team is a spent force.
They’ve been knocked down before and got back up again. The core of the team is still there and even though some people have suggested they have a lot of players close to retirement or that there are players who should retire, I think that’s far off the mark. They still have plenty of players with a lot to give so maybe this break will do them good.
O’Connor would not have walked away from the job easily. He has put an awful lot of work into it but these are personal decisions. He probably has good reasons to leave and he is acting in the best interest of Kerry football in the long term rather than remaining on just to complete his own final year.
Maybe he thinks it’s better for someone to come in with fresh ideas and a more specific rebuilding process for the next generation of Kerry footballers.
We’ve met a fair few times on the field and we also, as managers, meet each other at various functions and you always find that these men are decent, honest guys. They are out there doing their best and I find people in the GAA fraternity, and managers in particular, are very decent people.
We’re all intensely focussed on the sideline but I’ve never had any altercations with any of them. You know they all want to win as much as you do and there’s always the desire to get one over on one another. But, at the end of the day, you accept that not everyone can win and be happy and that’s life.
KERRY AREN’T THE only side looking for a new man at the helm and Colm O’Rourke has been linked with the job in Meath. Sometimes you feel a few of the pundits could do with managing for a while to see how difficult it is. O’Rourke, though, is very level in his analysis and has a broad view of things.
He’s not dogmatic and he doesn’t claim he has all the answers, unlike some who do. Those who think they do maybe need to see what it’s like at the coalface. I’ve often said I’d like to see pundits very openly declare what exactly they think is going to happen in a game, who is going to make it happen and how it’s going to turn out.
If that’s not happening at half-time, for instance, they shouldn’t be telling us what they have seen; they should be telling us they got it wrong. I’d love to see more honesty in punditry like that where they would give us their impression of what’s likely to happen and then on reflection admit they got it wrong, if that’s the case.
We can all be very clear when we watch replays so I think it would do them good to take a year or two out, do a bit of managing and get a better understanding of what goes on in a game in real time.
THERE HAS BEEN talk recently of maybe moving the inter-provincials and I think they can be revived. All that’s required is the will to do it.
The players need to be given the space to devote at least a couple of weeks to preparation and have nothing else on the table only that. There needs to be a big promotion push well in advance to flag the competition. There needs to be a determination to give it a fixed date in the calendar. That’s the most important thing so that people know when they are going to be on and so that there can be a proper build-up and plenty of publicity around it.
We need to sell the whole process to the public again and that will take time. We’ve seen what can happen when something is marketed and promoted effectively. This is potentially the highest level and the best competition we have in Gaelic football. These are the best exponents of Gaelic football in their provinces pitting their wits against one another.
I think it could be a wonderful event but the will must be there to make it happen. There needs to be a fixed date and we must clear the decks for it. There needs to be no other distraction even if that means taking two weeks for semi-finals and the final.
There is lots that can be done with it if we sit down and work out when it should take place and how best to promote it. It should be an event people look forward to and I think it can flourish with the proper will.
I know our players in Tyrone are always delighted to be asked to represent their province. Last year, Mark Donnelly was 27 years old by the time he nailed down a place in our team but he played so well he was called into the provincial squad. That was something special for him. But even the players who are automatic choices love it as well and I think that it deserves a prominent place in the calendar ahead of some competitions people put a lot of effort into.
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