Better late than never

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

Duncan O'Mahony arrived in Winnipeg yesterday afternoon, two years and one month later than originally scheduled.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are giving the punter a second chance, signing the 31-year-old from Kilkenny, Ireland, to a contract one day after releasing 17-year veteran Troy Westwood.

"He's kicked here, he knows the league, he's been there, done that, and his head's screwed on straight," Bomber GM Brendan Taman said last night.

O'Mahony, you may recall, failed to show up at Bomber training camp in May 2006 after missing a connecting flight in Calgary. He went missing for 68 hours, prompting his family to issue a public plea for help in locating him.

The "soap opera," as Bomber GM Brendan Taman dubbed it last night, made headlines across North America.

O'Mahony was found in Calgary, and the Bombers eventually released him. He didn't play in the CFL in 2006 due to the obvious personal issues, but he returned to the three-down loop last year and appeared in seven games for the Stampeders.

Calgary then traded him to the Edmonton Eskimos last month, but the Esks released him after they acquired Noel Prefontaine from the Toronto Argonauts.

Taman, who figured O'Mahony would never play in the CFL again after the 2006 incident, believes the former UBC Thunderbird is ready to live up to his obligations.

"He's been through the rehab and whatever and has got his stuff together," Taman said. "He's focused and ready to play.

"Never say never, I guess. He's a guy we've followed all along."

O'Mahony will compete with rookie imports Brian Monroe and Alexis Serna in Winnipeg, but his non-import status likely means he won't be going anywhere soon.

"This is the guy I want," Taman said. "He's always been one of the better (punters) in the league, directional-wise. And in the 2001 Grey Cup he killed us. I know that's a while ago, but he killed us in the fourth quarter. He just killed us.

"He was the best Canadian in the game. I know Aldi Henry blocked the punt, but he killed us."

O'Mahony, Serna and Monroe are all expected to kick on Thursday night when Winnipeg hosts the Montreal Alouettes in their pre-season finale.

Monroe is a better punter than placekicker, which puts him in a stickier situation than Serna (a better placekicker than punter) now that O'Mahony is in the picture. The Bombers will not go with two import kickers, so Monroe knows that his placekicking needs to be perfect on Thursday night.

"If I have a couple field goals in the game, it just might let (the coaches) think about it some more," Monroe said yesterday, before O'Mahony joined the kicking battle.

"And if I punt really well and kick off really well, they're going to have that in the back of their mind."


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