Kerry legend says young guns ensured Éamonn Fitzmaurice did not walk

By John Fogarty

Éamonn Fitzmaurice would have walked away from the Kerry manager’s position, but for the young talent coming through, according to Kerry legend Jack O’Shea.

The Finuge man put his faith in greenhorns in Sunday’s Division 1 final and was duly rewarded, choosing to keep experienced players Darran O’Sullivan, Kieran Donaghy, Barry John Keane, Bryan Sheehan, and Anthony Maher on the bench.

“I’m delighted for Éamonn Fitzmaurice. I’m delighted that he stuck with the young players, and the young players came out and performed in Croke Park. This is a learning experience for this team, they’re very young, very inexperienced and the first day in Croke Park for a lot of these fellas, said O’Shea on the RTÉ GAA podcast.

“And he has more blood to come through from the U21 team and I think this year, Éamonn Fitzmaurice, I think he would have walked only he knows he has something. I do believe that Eamonn Fitzmaurice believes that he can win an All-Ireland with this team, and I would think that’s why he’s hanging in there.”

Former Kerry forward Seán O’Sullivan complimented Fitzmaurice for the positive tactics he adopted.

“As Kerry supporters coming up, we were delighted to see that Eamonn didn’t revert to type. When you get to a final against Dublin, there was pressure on Eamonn and Kerry to produce a performance.

“We came up maybe more in hope than expectation and he could have gone back and reverted to type and started his Darran O’Sullivans and his Anthony Mahers and so on. He didn’t, he stuck with the Jack Barrys, the Jack Savages, gave them their chance and the experience that those lads have gained from playing in a game of real pace.

“I know it was only April, but the pace that game was played at was unbelievable. They’re going to gain huge experience, and a win, psychologically for that group, was massive.”

O’Shea believes Kerry now has the psychological upper hand ahead of the summer, insisting it’s Dublin boss Jim Gavin who must come up with the answers if the counties clash in the championship. “Éamonn Fitzmaurice has thrown the ball into the middle of the pitch and it’s up to Dublin to go for it.

“Dublin might need two or three changes to improve their team. They have great talent, great back-up, but the problem with Dublin at the moment is what is their best 15 to start a game, and finish a game? Jim Gavin’s a great manager but the question has been put to Jim Gavin now – can you answer Éamonn Fitzmaurice?”

Meanwhile, TG4 yesterday revealed 642,000 people tuned into the Division 1 final, with an average audience of 354,000 watching from start to finish, making it the most viewed programme on the station ever.

Sunday’s game enjoyed a 37% share of the audience, with the Division 2 game between Galway and Kildare gaining 21%.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.


 

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