Fitzmaurice names Donaghy in midfield
GAELIC GAMES:No Colm “Gooch” Cooper, Paul Galvin or Declan O’Sullivan, no Anthony Maher or Aidan O’Mahony, and no sign of new captain Eoin Brosnan either.
Fear not the obvious. If this is Eamon Fitzmaurice’s idea of out with the old, and in with the new, it is in fact mostly temporary or at least mostly enforced.
Not that the new Kerry football manager is being entirely blasè about the content of his first-team selection, to face IT Tralee, in tomorrow’s preliminary round of the McGrath Cup.
Fitzmaurice has named Kieran Donaghy at midfield, and it’s likely he will persist with him in that position for much of 2013, and such is his eagerness to cultivate the talent from county champions Dr Crokes that he’s also included three of their players in his starting team, despite their date, next month, in the All-Ireland club semi-final against Dublin champions Ballymun Kickhams.
Club conflict, however, is the main reason why Fitzmaurice is short so many first-choice players, and, in fact, has already prompted the Kerry County Board to reschedule their headline game against Dublin in the Allianz Football League from Tralee on the Saturday evening, February 9th, to Killarney on the Sunday afternoon, February 10th.
This is because Fitzmaurice’s own club, Finuge, with whom he’s still playing, along with Galvin, may well be facing an All-Ireland Intermediate final in Croke Park, also set for February 9th, if they beat Monasterevan, from Kildare, in their All-Ireland semi-final on January 27th.
Thus the potential clash of dates – and rather than take any chances, Kerry have decided to switch their date, from the lights of Tralee, to the Sunday afternoon in Killarney. Fitzmaurice actually missed the Munster club intermediate win due to a broken jaw (and Galvin missed it too, due to suspension), yet both players are set to feature in the semi-final, and with that potentially the final too.
All this now means the Kerry footballers will play just one of their league games under floodlights, on March 16th, when they host Down in Tralee.
In the meantime the other main club conflict concerning Fitzmaurice is the senior commitment of Dr Crokes, who recently won a third Kerry title in succession: it’s the reason Cooper, Brosnan and Kieran O’Leary will be sitting out the action until after their All-Ireland club semi-final, against Ballymun, which is set for Thurles on Saturday, February 16th, (Crossmaglen Rangers will face St Brigid’s of Roscommon in the other semi-final, on the same day, in Mullingar).
However, Fitzmaurice has still called on three Dr Crokes players for tomorrow’s game, including midfielder Johnny Buckley, who will captain Kerry on the day, plus defender Fionn Fitzgerald and wing forward Brian Looney, who has been in excellent form with the club.
“We have three of the younger lads in with us,” explained Fitzmaurice, “as we felt that it was important that they would be involved in the set-up early, get their foot in the door, and we’re delighted to have them for a couple of McGrath Cup games, if we get past the IT.
“Because we are looking at the McGrath Cup as a way of getting a few games, and hopefully we will be competitive on Saturday, and will take it from there. It will be experimental, and we will be experimental for the McGrath Cup, but it will give the management a chance to look at some fringe players, with the aim of being able to strengthen our hand going forward for league.
“So we are looking forward to see how some of the younger players, who might not have got too many opportunities in the past, deal with the step up.”
Among the players ruled out through injury are Aidan O’Mahony, Declan O’Sullivan, and David Moran (cruciate). “David is doing well in his rehab, and should be ready in the latter part of the league and hopefully he will make a full recovery from a lengthy spell out through injury.”
Also ruled out because of other club or college commitments are the likes of Maher, Peter Crowley and James O’Donoghue. For the record then, tomorrow’s team to face IT Tralee in Killarney features just four players from Kerry’s last competitive outing, against subsequent All-Ireland champions Donegal, in their quarter-final last August, which Donegal won 1-12 to 1-10. They are Marc Ó Sé, Shane Enright, Killian Young and Donaghy.
KERRY (SF v IT Tralee): B Kelly; F Fitzgerald, M Ó Sé, S Enright; J Lyne, J Sherwood, K Young; K Donaghy, J Buckley; M Geaney, D O’Sullivan, M O’Donoghue; B Looney, P Curtin; P Geaney.