Maher is rehabilitating after suffering a groin injury and will not feature in Kerry’s remaining league fixtures. It will be closer to their championship opener before the 31-year old knows whether “he can play this season or not”, said manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice last night.
The midfielder started three of Kerry’s five championship games last summer, including the Munster final win over Cork and the drawn All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo.
“Anthony is not back in with us, yet. He is still going through his rehab programme and, when he has that finished, he will make a call,” said Fitzmaurice.
“He has been carrying out the rehab programme diligently and, when that is completed, he will know whether he can play this season or not.”
Kieran Donaghy and Donnchadh Walsh won’t be seen until Kerry’s Munster semi-final against either Clare or Limerick on June 2.
James O’Donoghue, absent since picking up a calf injury on the opening weekend of league action against Donegal, could return for Kerry’s round-seven game against Tyrone next weekend. Tadhg Morley and Darran O’Sullivan may also feature in that concluding game of the round-robin series, according to Fitzmaurice.
Kildare are the visitors to Austin Stack Park this evening. Both sides are in need of the two points on offer. Kerry’s spring has been blighted by the concession of nine goals across five games. Fitzmaurice is reluctant to lay full culpability at the doorstep of his defence.
“I am always loath to blame defenders, as I do think it’s a team thing. We attack as a team, defend as a team and we have been trying different things. Some things have worked, some have not, so, am I worried about us leaking goals? No, because when it comes down to the heat of battle, we will be fine. It is something we are trying to practice in training, defending better as a team, so to make sure we are not giving up those chances.”
Cian O’Neill’s Kildare are without a win this spring, so Fitzmaurice is expecting the kitchen sink to be thrown at them by the Lilywhites.
“They are unlucky to be where they are, because they have been doing a lot of good things in games. They have been unlucky with results. A last-minute point by Tyrone cost them, a game they could have won. It was something similar against Donegal and they were very unlucky to lose by a point to Monaghan, right at the end of that game. No more than ourselves, where games could have gone the other way. We could have lost to Donegal, we could have beaten Monaghan and stolen a point at the death against Galway. There is no doubt Kildare are going to be a formidable challenge.
“There will be that bit of desperation about them, because if they lose, they are gone down, whereas if they win, they will still be giving themselves a chance going into the last weekend. We are well aware of the threat that will be there against Kildare and we are, hopefully, ready for it.”