Former Tyrone star Brian McGuigan claims Kerry would have won the 2011 All-Ireland final had Eamonn Fitzmaurice been in charge of them.
The Ardboe man, who’s had his fair share of run-ins with the Kingdom since retirement, expects Kerry will do all in their power to stop a repeat of what happened four years ago when Dublin came back from four points down with six minutes of normal time left to shock their great rivals.
In 2010, Fitzmaurice had stepped aside as a selector to Jack O’Connor the previous season having been involved in the 2009 All-Ireland success.
McGuigan reckons a Fitzmaurice defence would have been savvy enough to stop Kevin McManamon turning the game on its head with his 64th minute goal.
“When it comes to the final and the last few minutes and you’re ahead by a couple of points then you do whatever’s called for to win.
“If you take the 2011 final when Kevin McManamon was going through, I honestly believe that if Fitzmaurice was there that wouldn’t have happened. McManamon wouldn’t have got through for a goal. He would have been stopped in some way. It’s win at all costs on Sunday and both teams really want to win an All-Ireland final. If something has to be done then I’ll think we’ll see it but for 40, 50 or 60 minutes I’m expecting it to be a good, open game.” But McGuigan anticipates Fitzmaurice and Kerry won’t be as keen to go toe-to-toe with Dublin having lost their counties’ two previous championship encounters in shoot-outs.
Like it was against Donegal 12 months ago, pragmatism will be put before poetry.
There will be cynicism, he knows, but he’s hoping it’s not as much as was seen in the first Dublin-Mayo semi-final. “You can sit and analyse and overanalyse all these matches and the match might have nothing to do with what you’ve talked about but because there are so many good players involved on Sunday it (cynicism) won’t happen as much.
“Yes, there was a bit of cynicism in the Dublin-Mayo matches from the Dublin players but when these two teams came together in the 2011 All-Ireland final and in the 2013 semi-final they just went out and played football.
“Although, the only thing is when they did that and went out and played football Dublin won the two games.
“So maybe with the Kerry defence, when they have been tested they’ve struggled so Fitzmaurice might bring a few of the dark arts in. I just hope with so many good players on view we’ll see a good game.”
Meanwhile, Donegal’s Eamon McGee argues cynicism and the black card should not be Gaelic football’s most pressing issues. “You can talk about standards of refs, you can talk about black cards, you can talk about this and that now but the core issue of the whole GAA I see at the moment is the fixture list. Club players are sitting on their asses for long periods of the year and they can’t get a sustained run.
“Club teams are suffering and county teams are suffering. I still say Donegal should have been starting off at the same starting point as Dublin, as Kerry, as Cork, as Mayo. The whole thing is so unbalanced.” Speaking to Pundit Arena’s 16th Man podcast, McGee said there has never been a sport as “self-critical” of itself as Gaelic football this season. “I don’t think you’ve ever seen a sport or a crowd of people be so self-critical. It’s kind of unbelievable in Gaelic football at the minute and it’s the total opposite in hurling. They lose the run of themselves in hurling and just go the opposite way with the football.
“I’d be fairly happy with where the GAA is at, at the minute but in terms of a few more years’ time we really need to look at the fixtures list. We’ve a club game on its knees. The county calendar is just crazy at the minute. We’ve big long breaks and games that are run off in quick succession.”
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