McGuigan says Kerry face long wait to lift Sam

Tyrone’s Brian McGuigan has told Kerry to forget about winning an All-Ireland title for the next six or seven years.

The three-time All-Ireland winner said the county has to focus instead on improving their underage structure if they want to ensure they get back to winning ways.

Agreeing with the late Páidí Ó Sé’s infamous 2003 assessment of Kingdom supporters, the Ardboe man insists Kerry have to plough ahead with this course of action regardless of what their followers think.

McGuigan was informed by those at Saturday week’s All-Ireland intermediate final between Cookstown and Finuge that the difference in skill was massive. He claims it is yet another example of how much Kerry have fallen back in preparing their footballers.

“For me, the problem for Kerry isn’t at minor or U21 level, it’s much earlier than that. It is in the development of their young players at 14 and 15 years of age that they need to be investing their efforts and resources, because that’s the level where they can improve. By minor and u-21 level, it’s too late.”

Writing in his Gaelic Life magazine column, McGuigan continued: “Kerry need to forget about success or All-Irelands for the next six or seven years, and instead just concentrate on getting their underage structures and development squads right. We all know Kerry pride themselves on their naturally gifted footballers, but the modern game has such an emphasis on intensity and work rate, which means that so much time needs to be spent on strength and conditioning. Whether they like it or not, the game has moved on, and Kerry are going to have to act if they are to catch up with the leading pack again.”

McGuigan feels Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s popularity in Kerry will give him room to work on improving things but he doesn’t expect fans’ patience to extend all that much.

“Páidí Ó Sé said already what Kerry supporters are like and if things keep going downhill then I can’t see a manager lasting too long. Luckily for him, Eamonn Fitzmaurice seems to be a popular fella in Kerry and I think that will buy him a bit of time to straighten things out. If the results don’t come, and they keep producing performances when they don’t score for an entire half or don’t at least try to make a game of it, then it won’t be long till the Kerry supporters are on his back.”

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