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Wednesday 7 December 2016

It's decision time for Kerry star

O'Donoghue must decide whether to go for yet more major surgery on shoulder

Killarney's Legion and Kerry star James O'Donoghue at the launch of AIB GAA Club Championships at Parnell's, Coolock yesterday. AIB is proud to be backing both club and county as GAA returns to its roots, where #TheToughest begins - the AIB GAA Club Championships. For exclusive content follow @AIB_GAA and Facebook.com/AIBGAA. Pic: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Killarney's Legion and Kerry star James O'Donoghue at the launch of AIB GAA Club Championships at Parnell's, Coolock yesterday. AIB is proud to be backing both club and county as GAA returns to its roots, where #TheToughest begins - the AIB GAA Club Championships. For exclusive content follow @AIB_GAA and Facebook.com/AIBGAA. Pic: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

James O'Donoghue faces the gloomy and familiar prospect of missing "six or seven months" of football if he elects to undergo yet another operation on the shoulder that has caused him so much strife since his days as a minor.

Whilst admitting: "I'm sick of surgery" after sitting out roughly six months of the season just passed and stressing: "I think I can manage it fine," the 2014 Footballer of the year says he is as yet undecided whether to go under the knife again for "one more final (operation) to wrap it up and say 'good night, Irene'."

"At the moment, it's kind of 50/50," O'Donoghue explained, "so there's nothing either way, we'll see how it pans out".

Medical advice, he says, has been inconclusive.

"Two answers have come up. Can you mind it and not get surgery or do you just bite the bullet and get it again?

"The final act for me with the shoulder will be surgery again whether it is this year or not.

"So do I get it this year or leave it off? I don't know, it depends on how I go in the next couple of weeks."

Complicating his decision is the fact that O'Donoghue's club, Legion, are in the semi-final of the Kerry SFC where they play Rathmore next Sunday, an unprecedented development during his lifetime.

"I didn't do the club any favours last year because I decided to get the operation (immediately after the All-Ireland final).

"We had already lost in the county championship so we couldn't have gone any further.

Disappointed

"But we were still in a couple of other competitions but I said, 'look lads, I'm going to get the surgery' and obviously there were a few lads disappointed I didn't play on but I had to do that for myself.

"So maybe this year I kind of owe it back to the club to battle on."

"I would love for the Legion to do something special this year, especially after the disappointment of the summer," O'Donoghue acknowledged.

"We are a tiny club, we won the intermediate senior in 2005 before that, I don't know, we have barely won anything at all so to have a chance to win a county championship is a huge thing for us.

"I wouldn't even think of going to Christmas, if we get to three weeks and get to the final, it would be a big thing for us and then I can fit in the surgery afterwards."

O'Donoghue's shoulder held up until the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Kildare, when he was taken off after falling awkwardly in an attempt to score a goal early on in an easy Kerry win.

"I knew the story," he recalls now.

"It was obviously disappointing for me because I'd put a lot of work into it and I was hoping that was going to be that.

"But that didn't work out. But I knew what I'd have to do to get back. I did it.

"I'm not going to say it affected me or not but I was able to play anyway."

Of the All-Ireland final, O'Donoghue recalls: "We had a purple patch that turned into a terrible patch in the first half where we kicked a load of wides.

"If we had scored a few of them, we would have been in better shape at half-time.

"But then, even after half-time, we got back into it but they chipped off a few scores. They did well to keep ahead in fairness to them. They played a really good game.

"We couldn't quite get back level and that's the key," he added. "You've got to get level and then test them. But we didn't. There wasn't even a question asked."

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