Kicking battle gets interesting

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

If Duncan O'Mahony isn't able to crack the Winnipeg Blue Bombers roster this spring, at least he'll have a job with Destination Winnipeg waiting for him.

The non-import kicker from Kilkenny, Ireland, whom the B.C. Lions released last week, agreed to terms yesterday on a two-year contract, including an option, with the Bombers.

He will battle 15-year CFL veteran Troy Westwood for both the placekicking and punting jobs in training camp.

O'Mahony's personal connection to Bomber GM Brendan Taman played a role in his decision to join the Blue and Gold, but the cultured kicker said he just plain loves Winnipeg.

"What appeals to me the most is a downtown core which has bricks," the five-year CFL vet said yesterday. "It's an old downtown, and I like that. Since I've lived around the world, being in Ireland and all over the place, I do appreciate things that are old.

"I enjoy Winnipeg because of that flavour and character it has."

It could be argued that O'Mahony, 29, is just happy to be getting out of B.C. He is coming off a tumultuous two seasons in Vancouver, where he lost his placekicking job late last year and had a cool relationship with the media.

After missing three field goals against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Oct. 1, he suggested that the media had "willed" him to miss.

"(His time in B.C.) is over and done with now," said O'Mahony. "Now I can just really keep on focusing on my football and try to win a job."

Westwood likely will hang on to his placekicking job, while O'Mahony is a good bet to take over the punting duties from Jon Ryan, who left in January for the NFL's Green Bay Packers.

The Bombers, however, will let them fight it out, and either player could win both jobs. Taman said he wouldn't have a problem carrying both on the roster.

O'Mahony would love to do both duties, but he knows what his strengths are.

"The bottom line is I'm happy that I have an opportunity to win a job," said O'Mahony. "I'm not an arrogant or a cocky individual, but my punting's my bread and butter."

O'Mahony trusts Taman after getting to know him in the late 1990s, when they were both in Vancouver. Taman was with the Lions, while O'Mahony was turning pro out of UBC. O'Mahony didn't have an agent, and Taman offered to answer any questions he had.

Taman is impressed with how O'Mahony has performed as a pro, especially during the 2001 Grey Cup when he punted for the Calgary Stampeders in their win over the Bombers.

"He was the best Canadian on the field," said Taman. "His punting was outstanding. He's been one of the top punters in the league for quite some time."

LATE HITS: The Bombers yesterday signed non-import university receivers Blair Atkinson (Manitoba Bisons) and Jeff Schieman (Alberta Golden Bears) ... The Calgary Stampeders inked QB Henry Burris to a contract extension yesterday that will keep him in Red and White through 2009.


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