Eamonn Fitzmaurice insists there are no “hard feelings” between himself and departed goalkeeper Brendan Kealy.
The 2015 All Star goalkeeper left the panel earlier this month and Fitzmaurice yesterday revealed the 31-year old netminder had become “frustrated with a lack of game-time”. Kealy started six of Kerry’s eight league games including the decider against Dublin.
But Brian Kelly who got the nod for the Clare and Cork championship fixtures.
“It was disappointing and I was disappointed for Brendan, in particular,” said Fitzmaurice. “Generally, the way we’ve gone in the championship is that once one of the lads has got a hold of the number one jersey, that’s been it for the summer. Brian has been playing very well as well. It was disappointing for Brendan and he was frustrated. I can understand that. There were no hard feelings. I wished him the best of luck, it was mutual and that was it.”
Dr Crokes’ All-Ireland winning goalkeeper Shane Murphy and 2014 All-Ireland minor winning custodian Shane Ryan are now part of the panel. A pair of greenhorns when it comes to senior inter-county level, but Fitzmaurice was keen to stress that their inexperience doesn’t further solidify Brian Kelly’s status as first choice ’keeper.
“It’s going to be going on form and if a player is doing well enough in training, regardless of their experience, we won’t have a problem throwing them in. The pair might be lacking senior inter-county experience but they have Croke Park experience. Of course, they’re going to be pushing Brian, but we’ve been very happy with Brian. He’s experienced and he’s been there and done that.”
Expectations of goalkeepers have been altered radically by Stephen Cluxton’s revolutionising of the position according to the Kerry boss.
“When Jim Gavin took over and took Stephen Cluxton’s skill-set and made it very central to their game-plan, that changed the position for managers and goalkeepers alike. You still have to have the traditional skills of being able to save shots, catch high balls and deal with traffic around the square. But the kick-out is huge now. Teams on their own kick-out work so hard in trying to secure possession and then trying to get something off the opposition’s kick-out as well.”
Ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Galway, the Kingdom are sweating on the fitness of 2016 captain Bryan Sheehan. The 31-year old missed the Munster final owing to a hamstring strain and a reoccurrence of this injury last week means he is a “major doubt”.
Elsewhere, the Kerry boss, unlike Davy Fitzgerald, said he pays no heed to what is written and spoken about his team. “When I’m finished in this job, I’ll be reading it all and watching all the coverage. When you are involved in it, you don’t. You’ve enough going on. It is not on my radar. There are enough of strong opinions within our own group and that’s enough for me.”
Bonus PaperTalk: Peter McNamara talks to Cork U21 hurling coach John Meyler ahead of Wednesday's Munster final with Limerick.
John discusses his emotional reaction to semi-final victory over Waterford, Cork hurling's renaissance, his love of coaching, sweeper systems and tactics and much more.
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