Pat Spillane has said it is “pure horsesh**e” to suggest he was in anyway over-the-top or personal in his criticism of Éamonn Fitzmaurice during the latter’s six-year tenure as Kerry football manager.
Spillane, writing in his Sunday World column, was responding to an Éamonn Fitzmaurice interview in the Irish Examiner earlier this month where the former Kerry manager accused Spillane of having "a good few pops" at him.
Fitzmaurice also likened the eight-time All-Ireland winner to Donald Trump, claimed he has a huge ego and said he “wouldn’t have him within a million miles of a Kerry team”.
Spillane was baffled by Fitzmaurice’s assertion that he had been a regular critic of his management in recent years.
"During the course of his six years in charge, I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I criticised Éamonn or his management team.
“It’s gas really that the last two Kerry managers – Jack O’Connor and Eamonn – both gave lengthy interviews to The Examiner in which yours truly was the main focus of their ire.
“Why me? Am I anti-Kerry? No.
"Have I ever given the two any over-the-top, personal criticism? Absolutely not.
“Having a go at me is a handy way to generate a few jokes, but more importantly, a cut off me will generate a bit of controversy.”
Following Fitzmaurice’s resignation in early August, Spillane said history would be kind to his tenure on the sideline but did also listed the reasons he believed Kerry had failed to win any of the last four All-Ireland championships.
Spillane cited the absence of a kick-out strategy between 2015 and ‘18; the absence of a defensive plan; an attacking strategy that varied from game-to-game; strange substitutions, most notably taking off James O’Donoghue during the 2015 All-Ireland final and replacing Paul Geaney with a defender in the closing stages of the 2016 All-Ireland semi; the failure to launch a rebuilding project after the 2015 final defeat, persisting instead with ageing players.
“As I recovered from the Trump jibes, I noted with a wry smile that the heading over Éamonn’s article was ‘Without a Backward Glance’.
"But Lord, the whole article is about looking back, with Éamonn explaining away defeat after defeat.
"And what’s that saying? When you’re explaining, you’re losing."
Spillane continued: “As a fellow teacher, Éamonn knows that one of the qualities we try to instil in students is never to be judgemental – particularly of those we’ve never met.
“Éamonn says in his article that I have a huge ego.
"He’s entitled to that opinion, but how does he know I have a huge ego, as, believe it or not, I’ve never met the man in my life.
“Here’s a little bit of advice for Éamonn: After a loss, while it is important to grieve, and to have proper rehabilitation, there comes a time when you have to let go and move on.
“So the next time Éamonn gives an interview, I’d love it if he talked about the future of Kerry football, instead of throwing out cheap words that don’t reflect well on him.”