Fitzmaurice off to a promising start in the Kingdom
Kerry 1-12 Tipperary 1-5:When you’re finding your feet as an intercounty manager, early season silverware is not to be sniffed at. Eamonn Fitzmaurice tasted plenty of glory in his time as a Kerry senior footballer but Saturday’s McGrath Cup final victory over Tipp marked his first notable success as Kingdom senior supremo.
Fitzmaurice turned his attention to club duty yesterday, when he helped Finuge past Monasterevin in the All-Ireland intermediate semi-final.
But his focus returns to Kerry from this morning on, with next Sunday’s opening National Football League Division 1 fixture against Mayo looming large on the horizon.
In the coming days, Fitzmaurice will sweat on the availability of a number of his players due to Sigerson Cup commitments. But come what may, he has vowed to start with his strongest possible line-up in Castlebar.
Fitzmaurice is anxious to make an early impression in the League and he could do with taking at least a point at the weekend, especially with Dublin visiting six days later.
But for now, Kerry can look back on a job well done in the McGrath Cup. Promising young players have taken their chances to impress and Fitzmaurice reflected: “We’re happy with January. What we’ve done with each game is taken stock each week. We’ve trained, seen who’s available, we’ve checked the knocks. There are Sigerson games going on again on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and a lot of the lads will be involved in them.
“So, we’ll take stock again on Thursday, see who’s available to us. We’ll put our strongest possible team next weekend but we have two seriously tough games coming up, away to Mayo and at home to Dublin.”
Fitzmaurice will look to Darran O’Sullivan for attacking inspiration. The flying half-forward hit 1-3 on Saturday and was a constant thorn in Tipp’s side. Michael O’Donoghue and Paul Geaney were also prominent up front while defensively, the Ó Sé brothers Marc and Tomás ruled the roost.
Tipp managed just two points from play in the entire game, with eight different Kerry players on the scoresheet. At half-time, Kerry led by 1-7 to 0-2, with O’Sullivan netting a brilliant 16th minute goal.
For Tipp, this was a disappointing outing in front of 839 spectators and their goal, 13 minutes from time, had more than a whiff of luck about it as Barry Grogan scored direct from a 45.
Tipp manager Peter Creedon hopes to lift his players for the visit of Carlow in Division 4 next Sunday and he insisted: “ We have to get promotion – that’s it. The next two games (Carlow and Waterford) are way more important.”