Two defeats to start the Allianz League Division 1 is bad enough but righting the wrongs at training this year has come second to finding a surface to train on. For football’s pre-eminent county, it might be a Kerryman joke if it wasn’t so serious.
Last year they had to venture to Limerick to train. This year, only as far as Ballybunion, and Banna beach have been pressed into action when Dr Crokes’ second pitch has been unavailable.
One night, they tried Crokes’ back pitch before walking back to the patch of grass inside the walls of Fitzgerald Stadium. Fitzmaurice describes the situation as “challenging”.
“Everywhere is soaked. It’s the same all over the country. Dr Crokes have been brilliant to us, and we did go to Banna one weekend but that was not out of necessity. We were always doing it. Even if we had won the first two games, it was a thing we had planned and it’s important the lads understood it wasn’t punishment, but part of the plan.”
The lack of weather-resistent training facilities continues to compromise Kerry preparations, even though Fitzmaurice stresses they are not the only county. The three weeks since the damaging home defeat to Roscommon should have been employed to get everyone’s ballwork up to speed but underfoot conditions weren’t conducive.
“The weather has been unprecedented. Crokes have always obliged us and we are nearly there with Currans. Hopefully it will be open by the end of the year, so this is the last pre-season like this. That will take huge pressure off this time of the year.”
Fitzmaurice, who has a beefed up deck to play with this weekend in Newry, has kept in close contact with Kerry chairman Patrick O’Sullivan on developments in Currans, which will feature six pitches, one all-weather and all sand-based. It should be ready for ribbon-cutting in 2017.
“The last couple of weeks has impacted on preparations because we’d have preferred to have more good quality football played but it just hasn’t been possible,” Fitzmaurice lamented.
“The two defeats so far were disappointing, but we must be realistic and acknowledge we didn’t have a huge pile of training done. The frustrating thing about the Roscommon game is with a small bit more, we could have won it and it would have made life a good bit easier, but we don’t tend to make things easy for ourselves.”