Éamonn Fitzmaurice is anticipating a warm reception in this weekend’s NFL clash against Donegal, particularly after last year’s stormy encounter between Kerry and the northerners.
“I’m sure they’ll have the red carpet out for us alright,” said the Kerry boss
“Last year’s game just took on a life of its own and there was a couple of incidents in it. There was an incident early and there was one or two other things but I’ve been at worse games and I’ve played in worse games, so I don’t think it was as bad as it was made out to be after the game.
“There isn’t really that kind of a history between the counties — it was just this thing that happened. Sometimes these things happen and you might have a very open game of football the next day but we’ll just have to be ready.”
Is it worthwhile, winning the league?
“Of course it is. In many ways the league is the competition that the players enjoy most because the games are coming thick and fast.
“It’s a very valuable competition, we thoroughly enjoyed the league last year up until the final where we didn’t play as well as we can play.
But, other than that, we played an awful lot of good stuff.
“In the championship we were a bit disjointed because there were such gaps between games, so the league is absolutely worth winning and right now it would be an ambition to try and go and win it. But there is always that kind of safety net, that at the end of the day if you don’t win it, it’s not the end of the world.
“It doesn’t hold the same regard in Kerry as Sam Maguire but at the same time it’s something we haven’t managed to win in the last four years so it would be nice to win it.”
Fitzmaurice said league success was a factor to various degrees in Kerry’s championship victories in recent years.
“In 2004, in particular, it was hugely significant but not as significant in 2006 and 2009. I think in both of those years, because we did so well in the league, we underperformed in the Munster championship and we didn’t win a Munster Championship in either of those times and a Munster Championship is an important competition for us to win.
“I think you can look at it both ways. In 2004, it was definitely important to that group. Jack (O’Connor) was just in and Pat Flanagan’s training methods were just coming in at that time and for that bit of belief after a couple of hard years it was very important. I think in 2009 we almost won it by default because we kind of coasted through that league really and we beat everyone handy enough.
“We didn’t get that many tests in that league and we beat Derry in the League final. Of course it helps winning an All-Ireland later in the year but I think 2004 more so than the other years.”
The manager added that new selector Maurice Fitzgerald has brought “huge energy and enthusiasm” to his role: “He has a lot of knowledge and I felt at the start when I asked him to get involved that he carries respect straight away in the way that he carries himself and his personality and he’s a brilliant speaker.
“That all contributes, plus he’s a very hands-on type of person, he gets involved in training, he gets involved with individuals and he gets involved with the forwards so he’s been excellent and we only have a couple of weeks done.
“It’s better he is going to get as he gets more used to the environment and surer of the environment, he’ll be excellent there is no doubt about that.”
Allianz FL Division 1
Donegal v Kerry
Today: Letterkenny, 2pm
Referee: M. Deegan, Laois
TV: TG4 (deferred)
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