Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s closed door training policy was a key factor in Kerry’s All-Ireland winning campaign according to James O’Donoghue, claiming the panel’s younger members benefited from a lack of exposure to their opinionated following.
“Behind closed doors gives the younger fellas a chance to not be very good for a while,” O’Donoghue told Radio Kerry’s Terrace Talk programme last night.
“If you are going training and there is a 1,000 people watching you and you are not confident because you are not that long in with the seniors, then those in the crowd are going ‘oh I am not sure about him’. You are better off behind closed doors and leaving young fellas develop. We had such a young panel so it definitely helped us. It worked for us this year.”
The Kerry forward believes this group of players are more than capable of delivering further All-Ireland glory to the Kingdom.
“I hope we can fulfil our potential. There is so much in this group. This win won’t go to anyone’s head because this is only one All-Ireland. I think we can go on and win more and do something great for the county, which is my ambition.
“It is fantastic to be able to say that we were able to adapt for every game this year. Different challenges are thrown at you and Eamonn came up with a plan each time to beat a different system. The players managed to grasp onto it. I heard one manager saying ‘how could you change your system, it takes three months to change the way you play’. We were changing the way we played every two weeks. I am proud that we were able to do that.
“What was more frustrating than facing the Donegal system was training in the three weeks coming up to the game. Once you get used of it you are fine. Two or three nights before the final we were used of it. We were playing well with it. You then become excited by the challenge.
“It was tough to get used to at first. That is all part of learning and developing your game. If you kept playing Cork and other Munster teams who play a completely different brand of football you would never develop as a player. You would never truly trust yourself in difficult situations because you wouldn’t have enough experience. People said Kerry couldn’t beat northern teams in All-Ireland finals so that was nice to chalk off the list as well.”
The 24-year old says his role in the decider and positioning out around the middle of the field was a truer reflection of his capabilities as a footballer.
“I talked to Eamonn and he said if you have to come out to get the ball do. The best way to breaking the Donegal boys was the high ball to Kieran [Donaghy] and Paul [Geaney] because they have fantastic hands.
“I was happy to go out and do a bit of different stuff. Every contribution is worthwhile. I don’t think I took from my own game just because I wasn’t kicking points.
“That is not what I am about. It is only this year I started racking up good scores because people were doing for me what I was doing for others the last day.”
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