“I don’t think there was any problem with the way the inter-county set-up was, the numbers on the sideline were limited but the management could be on the sideline together. The way it is now, it’s just not going to work. The last day [win against IT Tralee], Diarmuid and Mikey [Murphy and Sheehy, selectors] were in the stand, myself and Cian [O’Neill, trainer, wore the Maor Foirne’s bib] were on the sideline; in terms of communicating with each other it wasn’t ideal.
“I know there might be an argument where you could be wired up but I think communication can be a lot more subtle than that, in terms of body language. If you make a proposal to the other selectors and are greeted by silence, you’d know it probably wasn’t such a good idea!”
That’s not the only communication problem offered under the new regime either. “I think one thing that has been forgotten about as well is that we just don’t have the facilities for it.
” The two selectors that are sitting in the stand are sitting right beside the subs; if they’re criticising a player — which can happen — or even if they are proposing substitutions, it’s within earshot of the subs. If there’s a fella sitting there listening, he’s thinking, ‘well, why am I not being considered? Do they have any time for me?’ Trying to motivate him afterwards could be harder. If one of the selectors gave out about one of the players on the field and it went back to him — I just don’t think it’s a very practical arrangement to be honest, it’s just not a good idea.”
Of concern also to Fitzmaurice was the manner in which the rule change was introduced. “The timing of it was interesting, it was just brought in, there was no debate on it. It came in at the same time as the FRC [Football Review Committee] rules so it sort of came in under the radar and we were left dealing with it last weekend. I think definitely it’s something that is going to have to be revisited. I can agree with the proposal that the manager is only allowed at his side of the pitch, I can see how a manager going in front of the opposition dugout could maybe antagonise the opposition. So the manager being only allowed to move up and down their side, I have no problem with that. But in terms of putting two management in the stand and two on the sideline I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
Fitzmaurice isn’t one of those entrenched managers who object to any and all change — in fact he is largely favourable towards what Eugene McGee and the FRC are trying to do, including even the new tweak in the card system, a black card introduced for fouls of a serious nature, resulting in that player having to be substituted.
“That was tried in the past, where the black card was there for the first foul [the referee’s black book] and then it moved on. I suppose it’s categorising fouls that are kind of serious but not of a sending-off nature. It’s probably making the referee’s job a bit harder but I don’t have too much of a problem with the FRC things because I think they were well researched and I think, by bringing in the black card, they have shown they are open to change and tweaking things.”
The recent move by Croke Park, however, doesn’t fall into that category, he reckons. “It’s just not realistic, I think it was a rule brought in for club football that is being applied to inter-county football. I just don’t think it’s a great idea and I think it should be revisited in terms of the management thing in particular.”
New Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice will not ban his players from tweeting.
“No, it’s part of modern life. Of course fellas have to be careful, have to be conscious of their responsibilities as Kerry players, but I think the lads understand that alright,” he said.
Unfortunately for his own following (@efitz6) of almost 5,000 he won’t be breaking any news on his own account.
“I can’t see myself doing much of it, to be honest, just observing.”