Éamonn Fitzmaurice insists the gap between Dublin and Kerry isn’t widening despite this latest defeat being their biggest in his reign.
While admitting there is a gulf between the teams, Fitzmaurice dismissed the suggestion the All-Ireland champions are moving further away from them.
“I think we were better today than we were last September but, look, they’re a serious outfit. In fairness to Jim Gavin, he’s a fella that really flies below the radar but he’s obviously brilliant at his job because for him to be able to keep the levels of hunger he has in a group that has been so successful over the last couple of years is remarkable, really. So, I think you have to give Dublin a lot of credit from that point of view.
“There is a gap there, evidently, but I don’t think it’s a huge gap. But to beat Dublin you have to be on top of your game. You really have to have it from the first minute until the last minute because they don’t slacken off. We weren’t at the top of our game today. We tried hard, we worked hard. There’s things we’ll need to improve on for later in the year but you have to take hats off to them, they’re an excellent team.”
Adamant they are “in a very positive place going forward”, Fitzmaurice vowed Kerry will recover quickly.
“The league has been very good to us this year. Better than the last couple of years in particular. Obviously, we’re disappointed with this result. I think sometimes if you lose a league final there’s always this kind of blasé attitude, ‘Oh look, sure it’s only the league’. We wanted to win the game. We came up to win and we put everything into winning it.
“We weren’t good enough on the day, the better team won. So we’ll get over the disappointment of it quite quickly. The league would be third on the list behind the Sam Maguire and the Munster Cup. We’d love to have won it, we didn’t, so we’ll just have to learn from it and learn from the league in general.
“There has been a lot of positive stuff from us in the league. There’s still a gap there with Dublin and it’s a gap that we have to try and close. Our focus now will switch straight away to June 12, seven weeks today, and being ready for the Munster championship.”
Fitzmaurice didn’t see the incident which promoted Aidan O’Mahony’s sending off.
“But if you get a red card you get a red card and that’s it and you just have to deal with it. In fairness to the lads, we worked very hard after the red card and it wasn’t an immediate effect on the game. It’s hard enough to beat Dublin 15 v 15 but as the game goes on they’re going to use the extra bodies and they’re going to make that count and they did that very effectively. The kick-out happened, it was what it was, Dublin punished it and we just have to take it on the chin.”
Fitzmaurice confirmed Alan Fitzgerald, Paul Geaney and Johnny Buckley were excluded from the match-day panel because of shoulder, hamstring and knee injuries, respectively.
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