Fitzmaurice ready for final fling

Only a few months into his tenure as Kerry manager and Eamonn Fitzmaurice is ready to quit. No, not his new job, which he’s thoroughly enjoying, his playing career.

Eamonn’s club, Finuge, finally won the Kerry county intermediate title last year and on January 27 will meet Monasterevin in the All-Ireland semi-final. But, at 35, Kerry’s youngest ever senior football manager is beginning to feel the pinch on the playing field.

“I will play at the end of January and we’ll see where that takes us; if we make the All-Ireland final in February, that will be it then. I don’t think you could balance the two (managing Kerry, playing with Finuge) and anyway my body is starting to send me messages, that it’s had enough. I’m in bonus territory anyway, and the Intermediate Championship in Kerry was something that we (Finuge) were trying to win for a long time. We went close a couple of times so it was fantastic to win it last year — at 35.”

Pressurised as the Kerry job is, Eamonn is enjoying these final few weeks in his dual role. “It’s not difficult to balance it, it’s just about being properly organised at the moment. With Finuge all I have to do is turn up to training and enjoy it. You’re going from managing to playing, it’s almost a release to just have to show up and train.

“The Kerry situation, by its very nature is going to occupy most of your thoughts of course but the way I look at it, playing is a release. It’s great to get a few nights where you’re just training and playing football and worrying about your own game and your own shape. Then in the Kerry set-up I have great back-up behind me, from Cian (O’Neill, new trainer) as regards training and from all the backroom team, who are doing a great job, so it’s not a burden at all. It would be if you were trying to do it for the whole season, but when it’s for only a short period, it’s not an issue.”

On the Kerry injury list for tomorrow’s McGrath Cup quarter-final clash with UCC at Fitzgerald Stadium (2pm) are Bryan Sheehan (foot), David Moran (cruciate), Donnchadh Walsh (hip-groin), Declan O’Sullivan (following his own programme) and Kenmare’s Stephen O’Brien, who will also miss his club’s All-Ireland junior club semi-final against Castleknock.

Brendan Kealy comes in to goal instead of Brian Kelly, Mike Moloney into the full-back line in place of Shane Enright and Kieran O’Leary, who captains the side, takes over at right corner-forward from his Dr Crokes club-mate Brian Looney.

UCC have named a strong side. Of the starting 15, four players – Jamie O’Sullivan of Cork, Niall Daly (Roscommon), Kerry’s Peter Crowley and Tipperary star Peter Acheson – played senior inter-county championship in 2012, while Eoin O’Mahony of Cork and Tipp’s Conor Sweeney have also represented their counties.

The 2011 Sigerson Cup and Cork county champions are again able to call on former Cork boss Billy Morgan in their backroom team, with Dr Paul O’Keeffe, John Corcoran and former Cork hurler Kevin Murray also involved.

Elsewhere, John Galvin is not in the Limerick football team to face Clare in tomorrow’s McGrath Cup quarter-final in Foynes. However, the double cruciate injury victim is expected to be fit for the start of the county’s Division 4 campaign next month.

KERRY (McGrath Cup v UCC): B Kealy; M Ó Sé, M Moloney, F Fitzgerald; J Lyne, J Sherwood, K Young; K Donaghy, J Buckley; M Geaney, Darran O’Sullivan, M O’Donoghue (Spa); K O’Leary (capt), P Curtin, P Geaney.

Subs: B Kelly, T Ó Sé, B Looney, S Enright, P O’Connor (Kenmare), BJ Keane, D Culhane, A Garnett.

UCC (McGrath Cup v Kerry, Cork clubs unless stated): S Mellett (Carrigaline); J O’Sullivan (Bishopstown), E O’Mahony (Macroom), F McNamara (Austin Stacks, Kerry); P Crowley (Laune Rangers, Kerry), N Daly (Pádraig Pearses, Roscommon), T Clancy (Fermoy); P Acheson (Moyle Rovers, Tipperary), D O’Sullivan (Dingle, Kerry); K O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaighs), JB Spillane (Castlegregory, Kerry); C Sweeney (Ballyporeen, Tipp), E Buckley (St Michael’s), G O’Grady (Glenbeigh-Glencar, Kerry).

LIMERICK (McGrath Cup v Clare): B Scanlon; C Coady, J McCarthy, M O’Riordan; S Lavin, P Brown, P Ranahan; T Lee, B O’Brien; J Riordan, J O’Meara, S O’Carroll; E O’Connor, G Collins, I Ryan.

LIMERICK (SH v Limerick IT): N Quaid; A Murphy, T Condon, S O’Neill; S Walsh, D Maloney, A Dempsey; C King, P Begley; W McNamara, P O’Brien, B O’Connell; P Ahern, D Hannon, S Dowling. Subs: S O’Brien, D Breen, D Reidy, M O’Connell, N Moran, M Carmody, M Ryan, A Breen.7

WATERFORD (SF v UL): S Enright; T Ó hUallachain, S Prendergast, C Phelan; T Gret, S Briggs, R Cahill; T Prendergast, S Dempsey; C McGrath, P Whyte, M O’Gorman; J Wall, P Hurney, G Nugent.

MEATH (SF v UCD): D Lyons; C Young, C King, S Curran; C Rowe, E Harrington, S Crosby; C Gillespie, C Sheridan; S Tobin, M Collins, D McNamara; D Bray, B Farrell, A Tormey.

TYRONE (SF v Antrim): N Morgan; A McCrory, C McCarron, D McNally; R McNamee, C Gormley, S Warnock; P Kane, S Cavanagh; T McCann, P Harte, P McNiece; D McCurry, S O’Neill, C McAlliskey.

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