LAST week Mick O’Dwyer revealed that he had definitely occupied his last inter-county sideline. The eight time All-Ireland winning Kerry manager, who also managed Kildare and Laois to Leinster titles, guided Clare in 2013. It turned out to be his last inter-county job.
“We were a bit unlucky,” Micko said this week of his year with Clare.
“We lost a lot of our players to injury. Even Gary Brennan, who’d be one of the best players in the country, he struggled all year. We tried to play him full forward in the finish and he was the mainstay of our team. There was about four or five other top class players in Clare that weren’t able to perform last year. But we went to the last game in the league and if we had beaten Limerick we’d have gone up. So we were there or thereabouts,” the four time All-Ireland winning Kerry footballer told The Clare Champion this week.
He is confident that Clare can improve if they stick at it.
“I’ve no doubt that if Clare keep on working, they can certainly improve the game there. There’s a good man in charge now in Colm Collins. He might be able to get some of the hurlers to play and if he does that’s a big plus as well. They tell me that some of these hurlers are very good footballers. I didn’t see them play but they tell me they are. Then again it’s very hard for them to move away from hurling after winning an All-Ireland title. A lot of them have won U-21 as well,” Micko pointed out.
Now finished as an inter-county man, perhaps the legendary Waterville native has a future as a pundit. He thinks so.
“I predicted when I was in Clare that the hurlers would win an All-Ireland title within the next couple of years. They won it quicker than I thought,” he laughed.
Although definitely never to be seen again with a county team, Micko was coy when asked would be get involved with a club or perhaps a school or college team.
“You never know what the future will bring. You never say no,” he replied.
In 2013 Micko spoke of the necessity of having an ankle operation. That’s behind him now and he is hoping that his golf will improve exponentially.
“I’m getting my ankle into shape now at the moment. I do a little bit of walking. Beyond that I don’t do too much else to be honest. I had a terrible problem with my ankle for the last two years. I had to get it done in the finish. It’s done now so we’ll just try and get it back into shape,” he said.
“I’m starting to play a bit of golf now. I played nine holes last Sunday for the first time in about five months although I could hardly hit it out of my way,” he joked.
Part of Micko regrets getting involved with Clare last year. It’s not that he didn’t enjoy his year in the county, it’s just that his ankle wasn’t up to it.
“I suppose I shouldn’t have been going last year, never mind this year. I’m going to take a year out completely now and go to see the games and watch them. That’s what I’ll be doing for this year,” he revealed.
Micko was somewhat taken aback with the widespread media coverage of his news.
“Martin Breheny was the man that got onto me and we just had a chat. I said my days at inter-county are over. He just printed that and it took off from there. That’s the way these things happen,” he said, armed with the experience of decades dealing with the press.
“The media coverage started when myself and Kevin Heffernan (Dublin) took over. I suppose we were good material for the press that time and it went on for about ten years. It was a great period. There was great hype about it. You need Dublin around to bring in the crowds. When they’re in Croke Park, they bring in massive crowds. It’s important that they are around the top all the time although we don’t want them to take over completely of course. That wouldn’t be good for the game,” he joked.
Aside from the football Micko will miss the driving, although he will be attending as many games as he can.
“Driving has been a passion of mine for years and years. I nearly went into rallying in my younger days but football took over and that finished me with rallying. I’ll be going to games nearly every Sunday and during the week as well. I love watching the games and you like to see how things are going,” he said.
When he’s not driving to a game, Micko is likely to be found with the remote control in hand, flicking between the television channels in his Waterville living room.
“I’m addicted to sport. No matter what’s on telly, I’ll watch it. Any form of sport. I went to many American football games when I was in the States. I even went to see some baseball games. I saw Mickey Mantle who was one of the greatest baseball players finish his career in the Yankee Stadium and I saw the Canadian Bobby Hull play ice hockey. I’ve seen them all. When you’re into sport you’ll follow any game. That is what life is all about,” the legendary Kerry man reasoned.