Former Kerry footballer, Darran O’Sullivan, strongly believes that the Kingdom need to be challenged in the Munster championship if they are to be serious All Ireland contenders.
In June of last year, Kerry recorded their sixth Senior Munster Football title in a row when they dismantled rivals, Cork, in the final on a scoreline of 3-18 to 2-4.
Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side then produced a dismal performance in the first round of the Super 8s competition against Galway. Although they recovered in their next games against Monaghan and Kildare, it wasn’t enough to see them through to the All Ireland semi-finals.
Paddy Power News GAA Ambassador, O’Sullivan, believes that, while other counties are improving, Kerry need the rivalry with Cork to fully test themselves.
“Looking on as someone from the outside, you kind of want to see Cork come back strong. I think Tipperary and Clare have emerged in the last five or so years, and they’re getting stronger and they still don’t get the respect they deserve.”
“But I think Kerry need Cork. They need Cork, they need the test. They haven’t been there the last few years but we need them to come back. Like that, you can only beat what’s put in front of you and concentrate on that. Last year we did that in Munster and we just hit a blip, and it just cost us in the end.”
“We won’t want them back too strong! Cork, I’m sure will come back strong in the next couple of years. Hopefully, we’ll still be beating them, but like that, the away supporters going to games want to see good games. I think people want to see good games in Munster so you kind of need Cork for that.”
The 32-year-old hung up his boots in October after 13 years with the Kerry senior panel. With the county now beginning a new chapter under Peter Keane, O’Sullivan admits that is strange not preparing for the season ahead with the panel.
“Look, it’s all new. A new baby at home now as well. I probably don’t have the time at the moment. I’m trying to settle into that. The next couple of weeks are going to be a strange transition. I don’t know anything but getting ready for the National League.”
“I could start missing it next Sunday when Kerry are lining out in Killarney. But come championship, I think I will find it hard. But at the moment, it’s nice not to be rushing and racing out to training and trying to get myself back to fitness.”
The new manager is probably best known in Kerry as the man who orchestrated three All Ireland minor wins in a row, but O’Sullivan hopes he is afforded the time and resources to make his mark on the senior side.
“I think he’s going to be very good. Will it happen straight away? I don’t know.”
“There’s a big change. There’s a lot of people gone. But I think he’s going to be good in the long run. I met him not so long ago and what he said, as a Kerry fan was pleasing to hear.”
“Peter’s starting from scratch with a new group. Kerry aren’t naïve enough to think a new manager coming in, all this experience leaves, and you can just go on and win straight away. It’d be great if they do. Whether it will happen, I don’t know.”
Irish bookmakers Paddy Power have announced their GAA Ambassadors for 2019, revealing that former Kerry football star Darran O’Sullivan has joined their crack squad of columnists.
He joins the firm’s flock of existing Paddy Power News columnists, including one of the most decorated footballers ever to emerge from County Tyrone in Owen ‘Mugsy’ Mulligan, who announced he was hanging up his boots just last weekend.