"I feel I have the energy for it" - O'Connor rearing for mammoth trek to Kildare 2 weeks ago

"I feel I have the energy for it" - O'Connor rearing for mammoth trek to Kildare

Jack O'Connor just couldn't stay away.

A teacher of 30 plus years, his first year retired was meant to be about taking it handy.

But that isn't how this man operates. From winning three All-Irelands with Kerry in the noughties to dropping down to the minors and the 21s in more recent times, the GAA is his passion and he can't stand not being involved.

So when the whiff of the Kildare job came around, it might have taken some deliberation and some convincing at home but the answer was always going to be yes.

"I just thought about it for a few days and said I'd have a go at it," he said to Colm Parkinson on this week's GAA Hour show.

He has his connections up there anyway. Sons Eanna and Cian transferred to Moorefield, one of Kildare's most successful clubs in 2014, so the finger isn't too far from the pulse. He was part of Ross Glavin's backroom team in their Leinster club winning year and also studied in Maynooth himself.

It was always a runner. Forget about the 400 mile round spin from Mastergeehy on the coast of Kerry, he'll be well able for it just like his county man Mick O'Dwyer was back in the day.

"I'd have a good idea of the club scene up there. I thought it was a good fit because it was the first time I was in a position to do something like this (having retired.) I feel that I'll be able to commute up and down because the roads are decent from Limerick on now. I think I'll be okay, it's not too bad when the traffic isn't too heavy. I feel I have the energy for it anyway..."

58 and still going strong. One of the standout features of Micko's reign was the stir he created within the county, with the support fanatical in Kildare around that time. O'Connor says he aims to create a similar buzz.

"Well, absolutely. Sure the players feed off the supporters and vice versa. I suppose our first job is to try and give the supporters something to shout about and hopefully make the team attractive to follow and to watch.

"That's our first priority.

"You know, people follow each other. A bit like the... I was in Newbridge there a couple of years ago when that famous game with Mayo was on. There didn't seem to be anything too wrong with Kildare supporters that evening anyway, that's for sure.

"So, the support base is there I feel and it's a good footballing county so it's just a matter of trying to get back winning and creating a bit of interest again amongst the supporters..."

So how will he do that? In a way similar to how Micko did.

"The fundamentals still don't change," he says. "It's about getting the team fit, picking the right players and gelling them as a team and getting the right information during the match and post match..."

Last year, Kildare were held back by injuries and the decision of key players like Daniel Flynn and Niall Kelly not to commit, but O'Connor reckons he has a full deck to play with.

"The players I've spoken to are mad for road. I'd be hoping to have a full deck. One or two players are going travelling...I think there's improvement in them, I think Kildare should be a solid Division One team..."

You can listen to The GAA Hour interview with Jack O'Connor and the rest of the episode here.