Eamonn Fitzmaurice expects a tough test

While Kerry have had a good start to the Allianz FL Division 1 campaign, manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice is reluctant to get too carried away.

The Kingdom go into tonight’s clash with Mayo in Austin Stack Park (7pm) with a win away to Donegal last week under their belts while the visitors began with a home loss to Monaghan.

Fitzmaurice doesn’t expect it to count for much, however.

“I think a lot can be read into opening games and we have been on both sides of it,” he said.

“We won last weekend and there was an exaggerated importance put on it, we lost games other years and there were exaggerations on how poor we were and where we were at and so on.

“We are realistic enough to know when you win a game you grab the two points and you go. There isn’t a whole pile of difference where you are operating at compared to other years. Mayo are going to be coming down very motivated. They were very close to winning an All-Ireland final and if they had won that final you know we would be saying the All-Ireland champions are coming to town so it’s going to be a seriously tough battle.

“We know that Mayo are going to be big-time up for this game as they are going to be anxious to make sure that they have points on the board before the break. We are not thinking about last weekend or the next game, we are just looking to improve from last weekend if we can.”

One area where Fitzmaurice is hoping for a marked improvement is the impact of substitutions, something he felt didn’t fully benefit the team last week.

“Generally we are good at getting an impact off the bench but we didn’t last Sunday for some reason, particularly late on,” he said.

“It is something we are conscious of and we want to try and redress this weekend because it is something we are always preaching, the importance of subs coming in and impacting. It underlines the strength of the squad so absolutely we will be looking for an improvement off the bench compared to last Sunday.” Conventional wisdom has it that the home league games must be win if silverware is to be attained. The majority of results tend to go the way of the hosts but, while Fitzmaurice can obviously appreciate the benefits of home comforts, he feels that travelling has its advantages in terms of team spirit too.

“In a positive way, we love playing at home in front of our own supporters and trying to get a win,” he says.

“Since Austin Stack Park has been redeveloped, we have a good record here and we would like to keep that going, but the point about being away is definitely valid.

“When you are away, you are all together the night before in the hotel and you can have a chat about the next day and we are united and everyone is there and everything is very clear.

“When you are at home, we just get together before the game but, look, we are together often enough and we know what we are at.

“A Saturday night game in Tralee, means there will be a big atmosphere here, big crowd in town for it. It’s a great opportunity for the players to have a match on a Saturday night and as well have the Sunday off to recover, which is no bad thing.

“We are not looking forward, just going all out to beat Mayo as every game is important in its own right and you want to win every game. That’s what we will be setting out to do but worried about runs and getting to the league final, you don’t think about that.”


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