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Kevin McStay criticises Jack O’Connor for how he pursued Kerry job

Kevin McStay Jack O'Connor

Former Mayo footballer Kevin McStay has criticised Jack O’Connor for the manner in which he pursued the role of Kerry’s senior football manager.

O’Connor will take charge of Kerry for the third time next year, after the Kingdom’s county board decided against re-appointing Peter Keane following their loss to Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final.

There was some controversy surrounding the appointment, with Keane releasing a statement saying that the players wanted him to stay on as manager. He also claimed that his players wishes were not taken into consideration.

McStay was speaking on RTE’s Saturday Sport and argued that O’Connor shouldn’t have voiced his interest in taking over as Kerry manager while Keane was still in the job and while he was still in charge of Kildare.

Kevin McStay on Jack O’Connor.

“The manner in which it all came about was a little bit ugly, I’d have to say. There was a sense that the position was courted when there wasn’t a vacancy – or a technical vacancy at the time,” McStay said.

“It was a disappointment that there was a kind of public grab. We all know this is a smashing Kerry team. They’re going to win All-Irelands sooner rather than later, I’d have a great sense of that. There seemed to be a little bit of grabbing going on.

“To compare Kerry to Man United, Kildare to an easy life, pretty much all in the one podcast… when you’re in a public position like that, the manager of Kildare of whom he had committed to as I understand, you have to be very careful with your utterances because after all you are the guardian of the county football team.

“There’s a great responsibility and privilege involved in that. I just had the sense that it was messy, that it was an ugly crossover.”

Jack O’Connor on the “Man United” of Gaelic football.

O’Connor expressed his interest in managing Kerry for a third time on an Irish Examiner podcast two days after the Kingdom’s loss to Tyrone in the All-Ireland final, while he was still technically in charge of Kildare.

The following week Kildare announced that O’Connor had stepped down as their senior football manager, two years into his three-year contract with the Lilywhites.

The experienced manager likened Kerry to Manchester United on the podcast and pointed to his previous successful stints in charge of the county, in which the team won three All-Ireland Championships.

O’Connor, who McStay did acknowledge as a “brilliant manager”, will hope to end Kerry’s seven-year-long All-Ireland drought, when he returns to the job he first took on in 2004.

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