Fitzmaurice points to McManamon’s crucial goal as the game’s defining moment
‘We didn’t win Sam Maguire so you know the way it is going to be viewed in the southwest’
Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice and Dublin manager Jim Gavin shake hands at the final whistle. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
When it’s over, it’s over. Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice appeared of the rueful opinion that it probably doesn’t matter whether you fall out a 70th or 90th floor window. Asked was it hard to believe his team had lost by seven points, he agreed but dismissed the significance.
“It is, but, at the end of the day whether we were beaten by one or seven it made no difference. Dublin got fierce life and momentum from the Kevin McManamon goal and they kicked on.
“I’m not worried about the seven points. We were there right at the end. Dublin got the goal that decided the game and unfortunately we came out the wrong side of it.”
There were occasions as the match switched backwards and forwards that Kerry looked to have broken Dublin’s challenge but the feeling at half-time – just as a week ago when Tyrone rattled favourites Mayo – was that the interval lead was poor value for all of the effort expended.
Going to the end
Fitzmaurice disputed this, saying that the match was always going to go to the end, when asked had he felt they should be further ahead at the break,
“Not really. I think the way we approached the game we always felt it was going to come down to the last five minutes.
“We knew that there would be goals there for us today. The way Dublin play they have a very attack-minded philosophy. They go for broke but they do leave themselves a bit exposed at the back.
“We felt with the forwards we have and the way the lads were playing in training that there were going to be goals there for us and even more than we got.
“We knew as well that Dublin were going to get periods of dominance in the game and, you know, of course they were going to score. We figured it would come down to the last five minutes even though we got three goals in the first half.
“I don’t think we played as well as we could have. When I look back on it we had a lot of turnovers in the first half in particular where we had the wrong kick-pass and got turned over in possession.”
It had been a tantalising match with some of the younger players thriving: James O’Donoghue shot 2-3 and Fionn Fitzgerald shut down Ciarán Kilkenny so completely the Young Footballer of the Year candidate was replaced shortly after half-time.
The Kerry manager declined to be drawn on the likely plans of some of his veteran players.
“I don’t think today is the day to be making decisions. The lads should reflect. When I took this job I said I didn’t think any of them had to retire purely based on the fact that their body was gone over the hill or that they felt they couldn’t contribute.
“Now, whether fellas into their mid-thirties can give the necessary sacrifices that they gave this year, that’s a personal decision for them – particularly the fellas with young families.
“It’s a very demanding schedule that the lads have. So that’s a decision they’ll have to make in their own time and we’ll give them the time and space to do it. Definitely today is not the day to be making those decisions.”
For his own part, a first year ended with Division One status intact, the Munster title back on the sideboard but as Fitzmaurice acknowledged, in Kerry there’s only one significant arbiter of a season’s work.
“Well, at the end of the day it is a disappointment. Until today we never really got going and ironically today was the day we lose.
“Look, we didn’t win Sam Maguire so you know the way it is going to be viewed in the southwest . . .”