Darran O’Sullivan: the rain stopped Kerry from winning 2018 All-Ireland

Former forward says conditions against Galway scuppered Kingdom’s chances

Kerry’s Darran O’Sullivan: “I am convinced there is an All-Ireland in there, whether it’s this year now I don’t know.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Kerry’s Darran O’Sullivan: “I am convinced there is an All-Ireland in there, whether it’s this year now I don’t know.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

It was one of the hottest summers on record yet when Darran O’Sullivan looks back on 2018, he thinks of a wet day in July when everything went wrong for Kerry.

The rain fell at Croke Park for Kerry’s first Super 8s game against Galway and, according to O’Sullivan, it ruined a game plan that he fully believed would have taken them to All-Ireland success.

“Coming through Munster I was saying, ‘this team has what it takes to win an All-Ireland’,” said O’Sullivan. “We prepared unbelievably well for Galway but we got to Croke Park and it started to rain. Now it’s a funny thing to blame rain in Ireland but when your game plan is based around playing a certain way, and you get to Croke Park and you can’t do that because of the skid of the ball, we just didn’t adapt.”

Kerry, of course, lost and ultimately failed to qualify from the Super 8s. O’Sullivan retired months later, along with Kieran Donaghy, Anthony Maher and Donnchadh Walsh, and is a mere observer these days. His view hasn’t changed that there’s an All-Ireland in the current panel, even if they’re under new management now.

The Munster champions are currently sitting at the top of the Allianz league Division 1 table, with four wins from four.

“I was convinced last year because I knew all the boys,” said the 2009 All-Ireland winning captain. “I was in there, I was seeing them every week. I’m outside of it now and it’s a very new panel.

“I am convinced there is an All-Ireland in there, whether it’s this year now I don’t know.”

Keane couldn’t have asked for a much better start to 2019. Using just 24 players – the joint lowest in the top flight along with Roscommon – the three-time All-Ireland winning minor manager has guided his team to wins over Tyrone, Cavan, Dublin and Galway. They host Monaghan on Sunday and supporters are already considering a league final return and a long summer.

O’Sullivan urged caution and insisted that while Kerry have won the last five All-Ireland minor titles, providing many of Keane’s current players, it guarantees nothing at senior level.

“They are all very good footballers, but there’s hundreds of good footballers in Kerry, you need more than that these days to play county football,” said the Glenbeigh-Glencar man. “The days of being a good footballer and doing well are gone.

“You need to be that bit different, obviously fitness and strength are at a new level and you have to have that bit of toughness. There’s no point in being a good footballer if you are too nice.

“I think Kieran Donaghy said recently that when Kerry weren’t winning minor All-Irelands, it didn’t bother him because fellas were coming in with a bit of a chip on their shoulders. It was a great point. You often see fellas and they are getting that publicity young. They don’t have that hunger then to drive on.”

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