James O'Donoghue on facing more surgery, championship restructuring and his club helping him cope with Dublin defeat
The glint is coming back into James O'Donoghue's eyes.
The Killarney Legion club man is still coming to terms with last month's All-Ireland final loss to Dublin, but he admits that playing with club, and reaching the last four of the county championship, is helping ease the pain.
The corner-forward spoke to SportsJOE at the launch of the AIB GAA Club Championship, where he chatted about getting back to football with Legion, surgery on his troublesome shoulder injury and what changes he'd like to see in the championship.
Has playing for your club Killarney Legion helped you get over the All-Ireland final defeat?
It's been a huge help. Getting back in with a different focus to take your mind off a disappointment is very big. For me I felt a huge benefit going back to club training. It was like I'd forgotten about the All-Ireland because I'd a new focus. All the lads from the club realistically don't care if you've lost the All-Ireland because they have their own focus and you have to join in on that.
How is the shoulder?
It's ok, I'm managing it. Obviously I was hoping that I'd have no more worries after the operation last year but that didn't go to plan, but I think I can manage it fine. Will I have to get another surgery or not, I don't know. I'm sick of getting surgery but if it's the only way forward then I'll have to do it.
What medical advice have you got?
Can you mind it and not get surgery, or do you bite the bullet and just get the surgery? The final act for the shoulder will be surgery again, whether it's this year or not. Do I get it this year or leave it off, it depends on the club really.
What does managing it mean?
Strapping and rehab while playing. Maybe not training as much. It's a pain, it's a balls but the only way to avoid surgery is to miss a lot of training and strap it.
How long would another surgery keep you out for?
I don't know. Six or seven months probably. At the moment its 50/50, the decision might be made for me in the next couple of weeks. It's honestly not that bad, It's just something I have to deal with. Honestly if we won the All-Ireland it wouldn't even be an issue. But then we lost and people are like, 'Jesus, James has a strap on his shoulder'. But honestly it's not an issue for me at the moment.
Do you think that you owe it to the club to postpone any surgery because of last year?
In fairness I didn't do the club any favours last year because I decided to get the operation. So maybe this year I owe it back to the club to battle on after missing a few competitions last year.
I wouldn't say that I owe them but I'd love the Legion to do something special. We're a tiny club, and to have a chance to win a county championship would be a huge thing.
What have you made of the changes to the Kerry backroom team?
Exciting, I don't know Liam Hassett but I've heard that he is excellent and he's a tough man. A couple of changes are going to be important to freshen things up for the group. Ultimately if it isn't broken don't fix it. Cian O'Neill is gone to Kildare and that's a big change and Padraig Corcoran is going to be our coach there a few changes that are exciting.
What did you think of the criticism of the Gooch in the media after the All-Ireland final?
I honestly haven't seen it, but I've heard bits and I mean Dublin had a system to stop us, I was taken off, Gooch didn't have his best game, Paul Geaney was taken off so I don't see why'd you pick out one man. He's plenty strong to deal with it, but it's disappointing to hear. He's still hungry and I hope he's back. I hope everyone's back.
Have you reflected much on the All-Ireland final?
We had a purple patch that turned into a terrible patch in the first half, if we had scored a few of them we would have been in better shape at half time. They did well to keep ahead and played a really good game. We could never get back level and that's the key. That was the key to try and test them to get level.
Were the extra games for the Dublin the key?
Replays are a nice advantage. We had that last year, it was the making of our year last year that replay against Mayo and they had the same thoughts about it. Everyone wants games. That's the whole point of the championship reform. Players want to play.
Why was it an advantage for Dublin? Because they played an extra game. So why not play all the time and have players playing at their best. Have players playing top class games all along and have players playing outrageously instead of lads dying a death at the end of the year because they had four games in four months.
I hope that's how it goes eventually. It needs a change. The only way is to compare it by going and doing it and then you can see what works or doesn't. At the moment no-one is willing to take the risk.