Star backs Fitzmaurice

Kieran Donaghy has confirmed Eamonn Fitzmaurice was the players’ choice as Kerry’s new manager.

“[County chairman] Patrick O’Sullivan was obviously on the ball and knew the time to strike was early and get Eamonn,” said Donaghy.

“Fair play to the county board for going the extra mile to get Eamonn to be the manager. He was the main candidate and certainly I was hoping it would be Eamonn. He was everyone’s choice. From my own point of view, I’m very happy with it.

“Getting the number one target was the main thing and for the next three years, Eamonn has the job and Kerry will be in the best place for it.”

Donaghy has no fear of Fitzmaurice being too close to the players, despite having won All-Ireland titles alongside several of them.

“Eamonn hadn’t been a player for the last five years in that dressing room. We always looked at him as a guy you could go hop ideas off about how to improve training and freshen things up. He always had the answers and I think he can continue that and bring a new edge to us.”

Going back to Fitzmaurice’s playing days, Donaghy speaks from experience when he says the former centre-back has no qualms about dishing out criticism to his former peers.

“He was a massive leader on the pitch when he was playing. He was always very vocal. I was at the end of a barrage from him one day in training when I didn’t kill the ball.

“He was in the backs of the team and we had dropped three into the goalie’s hands and I happened to be the unfortunate fella who did it the third time. He came jogging up with the field with a few choice words for me. He was a massive leader and a great character in the dressing room.”

A season truncated by an All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Donegal, the Austin Stacks forward looks back on the season as a difficult one.

“Donegal was certainly a low. We were right there with a shout late in the game. They’re tough defeats to take, those ones in quarter-finals, and there are a lot of questions being asked of players and managers.

“But what it boils down to on the day is taking the chances and making the right decisions. Donegal made a few more right ones than we did.

“We’d a few nice days like the Tyrone game, which was a big one for us. We’re a bit unlucky that we didn’t raise our performance against Cork. It was one of my worst days in a Kerry jersey. Even for the whole team on the day, it was disappointing.”

He can understand the view of Colm Cooper and Darran O’Sullivan that Gaelic football is less enjoyable with so much emphasis on defence.

“It’s human nature. You want to be banging in goals in Croke Park and being marked one-on-one and life is great but that’s not the real world we live in now.

“Our ambition will be the same as it has been every January when we got back training. It mightn’t be as enjoyable but it offers up a new challenge, which can be enjoyable if you get around it.”


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