Former Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice feels there is “positive energy” around the county despite Saturday’s All-Ireland final replay defeat to Dublin, saying that the experience will only make the current panel “hungrier”.
Speaking on the Renault Irish Examiner GAA Championship podcast, Fitzmaurice also rebutted the idea that Kerry’s failure to prevent Dublin’s record-breaking five-in-a-row triumph will be held against the side in the county, saying, “the roll of honour is a more important thing to protect and that becomes a challenge for the next decade”.
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Following their decade of dominance, Dublin are now just eight All-Ireland victories away from joining Kerry at the top of the honours roll, having won seven of the last ten football championships, with Fitzmaurice guiding the Kingdom to their only title of the same period in 2014.
Mike Quirke, who looks set to be officially confirmed as the new Laois manager in the next 24 hours, echoed Fitzmaurice by describing the mood in Kerry as “absurdly positive”, but warned that many feel Peter Keane's charges missed a glorious opportunity to dethrone the champions in the drawn game.
Quirke said: “What they will listen to for the winter, it’s not going to be about the 5-in-a-row, it’s going to be ‘you missed your chance the first day, you left it after you the first day’”, adding that “you can hear people already saying it and there’s obviously truth to it, that the underdog in those scenarios normally gets the best crack the first day out.
“It was just the circumstances that presented themselves the first day with Johnny Cooper’s red card, with the momentum Kerry had, with taking the lead with only minutes to go. That was just such an amazing opportunity, and all they’re going to hear about for the winter is ‘ye did really well, and we’re really proud of you.’”
Looking to next year, Fitzmaurice believes the management cycle - with Peter Keane entering his second year as Kerry manager - represents a massive opportunity for the side.
“I think in those first two years when there’s an element of mystery about you as a manager, and the management team, you can get a lot out of fellas, so I think next year is going to be huge for Kerry, from the point of view that that freshness or bounce or whatever you want to call it will last another season at most,” explained Fitzmaurice.
Fitzmaurice said that after the first two years, a management team can still get more from players as people become familiar with the set-up and ways of coaching, but that a new management team brings a two-year bounce with “new ideas, new demands, and different ways of doing things”.