The initial proposal, put forward by GAA director general Páraic Duffy last November, recommended discontinuing the U21 football championship with no replacement competition, thus creating a void at inter-county level between minor and senior.
Fitzmaurice, who said he was not surprised by the decision to largely retain the present structure of the All-Ireland senior championship, was glad commonsense prevailed with regard to ensuring age-based inter-county competition did not conclude at minor level.
“I would agree with the U20 proposal because to make the jump from minor to senior is a huge leap and I think you would lose a lot of players if it was going straight from minor into senior,” remarked the Kerry football boss after his team’s McGrath Cup win away to Tipperary.
“Counties would probably end up running development squads [at U21] and playing against each other informally. From that point of view, it is good that it is still there.”
Of the decision to reintroduce an All-Ireland B championship for Division 4 teams, Tipperary boss Liam Kearns commented: “I just hope we are not involved in it at any point.”
Kearns is currently without 15 members of his squad through injury and club commitments and said the situation is unlikely to improve ahead of their Division 3 opener in a fortnight.
“The six from Clonmel won’t be available and you can definitely rule out George Hannigan and Ger Mulhaire (both injured). I am hoping to get back Evan Comerford, Alan Campbell, Conor Sweeney, Kevin O’Halloran and Philip Austin, but they are not certainties.”
His side led only once in this dead-rubber and having toiled against the elements in the first period – they went scoreless for 21 minutes of action - Tipperary found themselves 0-9 to 0-3 in arrears at the break; Barry John Keane (0-3), Philip O’Connor (0-2) and Alan Fitzgerald (0-2) inflicting most of the damage.
On an afternoon and surface where free-flowing football wasn’t an option, the Kerry forwards benefited from the quality of delivery being sprayed in by midfield pair Tommy Walsh and David Moran, the latter slotting two first-half 45s.
Household names Fionn Fitzgerald, Killian Young and Paul Murphy, ably assisted by young Briain Ó Beaglaoich, kept a tight leash on the Tipperary forward unit and although there were plenty of cobwebs to be blown off, the visitors always had their opponents at arm’s length.
The impressive Peter Acheson and Liam Casey kicked two in quick succession upon the restart to pare the margin back to four, but Kerry moved swiftly to shut down any momentum their opponents sought to build – Paul Murphy, an excellent point, and Barry John Keane (free) cancelling out the Tipperary scores.
The visitors, without ever speeding off into the distance, kept the scoreboard ticking over in the final 25 minutes – Keane (free), Fitzgerald and sub Conor Cox (0-2) on target.
“It was a good workout,” continued Fitzmaurice.
“The lads are in good shape. The days of the fella coming back half a stone or three-quarters of a stone overweight are long gone. Fellas mind themselves for the year round and even in Miami they went for a few runs. It is a matter of now getting some football and match-time into the legs and trying to get ready for the Dublin and Roscommon games.
“Everyone put in a massive effort here. It is great for the likes of Briain and Tom O’Sullivan getting a look at it, a glimpse of what it is like at senior level. It is exciting to see lads like that coming through.”
BJ Keane (0-5, 0-4 frees); A Fitzgerald (0-3); C Cox (0-1 free), D Moran (0-2 ‘45’s), Philip O’Connor (0-2 each); P Murphy, J O’Sullivan (0-1 each).
L Casey (0-3 each); B Hewitt (0-2, 0-1 free); A Maloney (0-1 free), R Kiely, P Acheson, D Butler, B Fox (0-1 each).
B Kealy; B Ó Beaglaoich, M Griffin, F Fitzgerald; P Murphy, K Young, Padraig O’Connor; D Moran, T Walsh; Philip O’Connor, J Buckley, J O’Sullivan; BJ Keane, A Fitzgerald, S O’Brien.
B Kelly for Kealy (HT), J Lyne for Walsh (45), W Guthrie for Padraig O’Connor (52), C Cox for Keane (55) T O’Sullivan for Buckley (55), P O’Sullivan for Murphy (55).
C Kendrick; C O’Shaughnessy, J Feehan, C McDonald; J O’Callaghan, R Kiely, S Leahy; A Maloney, N O’Donovan; B Fox, M Dunne, J Keane; P Acheson, L Casey, B Hewitt.
D Bargerie for McDonald (42 mins), D Butler for O’Callaghan (55), D Leahy for Kiely (60), S Quirke for L Casey (65).
K Murphy (Cork).