Not exactly the news the Kerry manager wanted to hear.
The Kingdom lost the All-Ireland final to Dublin last summer and there’s no doubt that O’Connor will have already turned his attention to next season, to try and bring Sam back to Kerry.
The Kerryman was already successful, winning the All-Ireland in 2022, but a serious of events coinciding with Dublin’s ‘Last Dance’ that saw superstars emerge from retirement to help their team, all meant that Kerry fell short the following year.
One of the issues was in midfield, because central to that victorious 2022 season, was David Moran, the stalwart who decided to retire from the inter-county game, leaving a big gap to be filled.
That left Diarmuid O’Connor, Stefan Okunbor, Joe O’Connor and Jack Barry as the men who would fight for a starting place in the middle of the park.
However, disaster struck and Joe O’Connor suffered an injury that meant he would miss the whole inter-county season, while Okunbor started the league campaign in flying form, only to rupture his hamstring against Tyrone in Healy Park, thus ending his campaign as well.
Luckily for Kerry, Jack Barry really stepped up and despite the team being a little light in this position he performed will alongside his midfield partner Diarmuid, and silenced a lot of critics in their dominant display against Tyrone in particular at Croke Park.
Unfortunately for the munster champions, after featuring in Na Gaeil’s relegation play-off victory over Kerins O’Rahilly’s at the weekend, it has emerged that Barry will be opting out of the Kerry panel to travel to Australia next year.
With both Okunbor and O’Connor are still battling for full fitness, and with the clock ticking, management will be scanning the county to try and unearth new midfield options in order to address the issue before it becomes an even bigger problem next year.
If all goes to pan, the two lads will make full recoveries from their injuries, and play an integral role in Jack O’Connor’s team next season, but there’s no doubt that Barry will be a big miss.
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