Maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Éamonn Fitzmaurice was keeping a record of exactly what he was doing this spring.
When it was put to him that he had given a lot of players game-time over Kerry’s seven league games, he replied: “I’m open to correction but 37 (players were used in the league) particularly players getting their first taste, their first starts.”
His count is right. Almost 40 players have seen action and at least another seven, primarily seasoned operators, have either been rehabilitating (Anthony Maher), taking breaks (Darran O’Sullivan, Donnchadh Walsh), or been otherwise engaged (Kieran Donaghy with basketball).
Just two players have been ever-presents: Full-back Jason Foley and wing forward Micheál Burns.
Ronan Shanahan had been a starter for the first six matches but wasn’t called off the bench against Tyrone. Paul Murphy and Paul Geaney also began those matches but didn’t travel to Omagh.
Barry O’Sullivan did but didn’t add to his six starts while Brian Ó Beaglaoich made his sixth in Healy Park.
Had David Clifford been called off the bench on Sunday, he would have made his seventh appearance of the campaign having made five starts and one substitute’s appearance.
James O’Donoghue would likely have made more than one six-minute contribution off the bench in the Round 1 win over Donegal before he picked up a calf injury.
Shane Murphy has been given an extended stretch between the sticks although Brian Kelly featured in the games against Galway and Tyrone.
As Fitzmaurice mentioned, Gavin Crowley would have seen more action than two games had he not broke his hand in the Sigerson Cup, while Gavin White, so good for Dr Crokes last year, should be in the running for a championship squad place providing he goes well in upcoming club matches.
Fitzmaurice has described his work as a three-year project but the one thing he isn’t short of is options.
Next to Dublin, Kerry have the deepest well to draw from.
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