By Tony Leen
Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice may be giving youth its fling this summer, but he’s still looking to the old guard to help shape the Kingdom’s Championship destiny.
Fitzmaurice confirmed Saturday that Kerry has cut no player from the panel since the League and reported that veterans Killian Young, Darran O’Sullivan and Anthony Maher are all coming nicely to the boil, even if they mightn’t be ready for the county’s Munster SFC semi-final next Sunday, June 3 rd against Clare.
“Because it’s a new format and a unique circumstance to some degree, we may need a big squad that’s ready to go. Some of the more experienced players who didn’t see much League game time are coming into good form now. This is the right time for them to be getting there.
"The football we play in training is, I would argue, as good as any challenge game you are going to play. So those lads are injury free now, they’re fresh and they’re getting good football. They’re not ready, all of them, right now, but they will be.”
Fitzmaurice added: “We haven’t cut the panel since the league. All of the group are still involved. For our (final) internal game Saturday we have 34 players and some other lads would be doing a bit of work separate to that as well, fellas outside our immediate plans.”
The Kerry manager confirmed that Johnny Buckley would not be involved with the squad in the immediate future, having been forced to pull out for “personal family reasons”.
Shane Enright (ankle), will also miss the Clare game in Killarney, as will Donnchadh Walsh and Daithi Casey, though their injuries are short term.
On former footballer of the year James O’Donoghue, Fitzmaurice confirmed: “He’s good to go.”
The Legion attacker has had a nightmare run with injuries, a calf tear sustained in the opening National League game against Donegal compounded by a hamstring injury when he returned to the set-up.
“He’s trained well,” said the manager. “With James, he just needs to stay injury free. He had a fantastic Munster Championship last year and then he picked up a couple of knocks between that and the All-Ireland series. If we can keep him healthy for the summer, the consistent form and performances will come with that. He’s fully fit now.”
Fitzmaurice also laughed off speculation that former star Paul Galvin, who is back playing with Finuge, was in line to be drafted in as an additional coaching option.
“No truth. I hadn’t heard that one,” he said.