Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s new Kerry management team was formally unveiled last night, and will feature leading physical trainer Cian O’Neill as a selector.
Former keeper Diarmuid Murphy will remain with the backroom team, the only link from Jack O’Connor’s management, while Kingdom legend Mikey Sheehy will also join the Fitzmaurice ticket as the fourth selector.
O’Neill comes to Kerry on the back of a near miss with the Mayo footballers this year, and the proximity of Kerry to his Limerick workplace is one of the reasons behind this switch.
The ratification of O’Neill (also a Tipperary hurling target) is a major coup for Fitzmaurice who is keen to throw something new at a group of players which have seen and won most things in the game. The new Kerry coach will have a full hand to play with, with no retirements from the squad seen off by Donegal in August’s All-Ireland quarter-final.
O’Neill is a lecturer at the Department of Physical Education and Sports Science in UL.
Said Kerry GAA chair Patrick O’Sullivan: "Eamonn, Mikey and Diarmuid have 15 All-Ireland Senior medals won between them, which makes them one of the most experienced management teams Kerry has ever had."
Kerry County Board last night also ratified Tom Howard as the new Kerry senior hurling boss to replace the departed John Meyler.
Howard, best known in Kerry as Anthony Daly’s assistant at Kilmoyley in 2009/2010, where he assumed extra responsibilities because of Daly’s commitments with Dublin and helped Kilmoyley win the county title in 2009.
Howard played minor and U21 hurling with Clare. He first came to prominence back in 1979, when he won the Harty Cup and All -Ireland Colleges with St Flannan’s. He played in nine county senior finals with Clarecastle, winning five and won a Munster Club in ’97 along with Anthony Daly.
Howard took over as manager of Clarecastle in 2002 and won the county with them in 2003. He will be joined by a top class coach, and fellow clubman, Fergus O’Loughlin, who will train the team, with the three selectors named being Padraig Regan (Kilmoyley), and Mike Bourke (Causeway), with one more, probably from county champions Ballyduff.
The Kerry SFC final between Dr Crokes and Dingle has been fixed for October 28 in Tralee (3pm), with the curtain-raiser being the Intermediate Football Final, between Finuge and Spa at 1pm. It may prove Fitzmaurice’s last game as a Finuge player. County Convention has been fixed for Monday December 10th in Tralee.
* Speculation increased last night that ex-minor coach Brian Cuthbert will be one of Conor Counihan’s new-look Cork management team next season. Clonakilty’s Haulie O’Neill and ex-Douglas stalwart Ronan McCarthy have also been mentioned as possible selectors.