On Sunday evening, Jack O’Connor reasoned Kerry would be going back down the road from Donegal with their tails between their legs.
And working off largely the same squad for next Sunday’s Killarney clash against Monaghan, there has been some talk since the loss to Donegal that the reigning league champions could be dragged towards a relegation scrap in Division One.
But Aidan O’Mahony has seen it all before. In 2013 he was part of a Kerry team that suffered a 1-12 to 0-6 defeat to Donegal in a league match in Ballybofey. At the end of that league, Donegal were relegated while Kerry retained their Division One status. So, O’Mahony is not about to panic on the back of Sunday’s opening round loss.
“I think there’s plenty of positives,” said the former Kerry defender. “A game like that, you can use it to say, ‘Look lads, we should have got something out of that, why didn’t we? We’ll learn from it’.
“Donegal is a very tough place to come away with any results. In my career we had massive battles up there, no matter what team they put out. I think for Kerry it’s a learning thing.
“At the moment, I don’t think they’ll get relegated. I can see them picking up points.
“I think a home game would suit them better, you’re playing at home, you’ve a big crowd. It’ll be great for Jack now because he’ll be able to put pressure on and say, ‘Look, you’ve been given a jersey, you’re getting your opportunity.’
“They could have got a draw out of it. Paddy McBrearty had a very special moment at the finish, kicked a great score. Look, they conceded no goal, they’ll have learned plenty from it and I think the home game the next day will probably tell us a lot where Kerry are at.”
O’Mahony is the focus of this week’s Laochra Gael programme on TG4, during which he talks about the difficult period in 2008 when he tested positive for salbutamol. But O’Mahony, an asthmatic, was later able to clear his name by proving the levels of the substance in his system were consistent with using an inhaler for medical use.
“I found it tough because it’s splashed across the papers saying you failed a drugs test,” he recalled.
“Straight away people are asking questions and stuff. I think it has tightened up since in that counties now at the start of the year are getting everything in line and they are going through what you can take and what you can’t.
“Looking back now I could have dealt with it a little better, but I just kind of went into a bit of a spin after it.
“Those years in 2008 and 2009 and stuff, I just wasn’t in a good head space mentally outside of the pitch as well, and all these things when you don’t deal with them, they just snowball up.”
He eventually sought help with Aiséirí clinic, which he says was ‘the best thing for me,’ and helped him through a challenging time. He was part of the Rathmore squad that won the All-Ireland intermediate at Croke Park in early January and he recently took charge of the Dr Crokes senior hurlers.
“When I got approached at the end of the year about taking over in the hurling, ‘Oh lord God, people will be saying your man has a football background, what does he know about hurling?’
“I was doing the S&C with them last year. I know the group there, four or five of the guards that I work with are involved. I’m actually looking forward to it. There’s a good group there.”
*Aidan O’Mahony’s Laochra Gael episode will be shown on TG4 this Thursday night at 9.30.