Belfast Telegraph

Declan Bogue: Kerry will sorely miss their Jack of all trades

When Jack O'Connor signed off from his work in Kerry last weekend, it began a process of natural selection.

Kingdom will sorely miss their Jack of |all tradesWHEN Jack O'Connor signed off from his work in Kerry last weekend, it began a process of natural selection.

O'Connor was a son of south Kerry, a man who did what he had to do to get by, and did it well. As a young man, he left behind his cosy world of teaching and moved him and his wife to America, when there was big bucks to made.

He learned a new trade; scaffolding. Before long, he had squads of men out every day, leaving vans emblazoned with 'Atlantic Scaffolding' and scaling the high-rises of New York.

He left his own club, Dromid Pearses as a player, because he didn't feel their ambition matched his. He returned in later years and faced down those that had their pieces to sat to him.

He took on roles managing Kerry after his incredible successes with Coláiste na Sceilge in Cahirciveen, having returned to life in the blackboard jungle. His Kerry Under-21s lost a Munster Championship game to Waterford and the criticism poured into his ears must have felt like battery acid. He never felt the love from the Kerry old guard either, and called them out for it.

Yet he proved a better coach than any of them. A man able to reinvent players in different positions, who lost players and still kept Kerry right at the top.

In time, men like Jack O'Connor will vanish from the sidelines, replaced by graduates of the sports sciences who were born to coach. That's progress. But Kerry lost a good one in Jack, not that they would ever admit.

Belfast Telegraph

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