Eamonn Fitzmaurice tones down rising hopes for Kerry in final
Kingdom faces sterner test against Dublin after easy victory over Roscommon
Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice: “There’s a great collective thing there at the minute, a sense of selflessness. ” Photograph: Inpho/Cathal Noonan
Nothing Eamonn Fitzmaurice said could disguise the ease with which Kerry advanced to the Allianz Football League final and yet he could hardly hide his satisfaction either. In his four years as Kerry manager this is the one prize that has eluded him.
“Satisfying, yes, and great to be back in a national league final,” said Fitzmaurice, assessing the game with the same minimum of fuss that his team had just played it.
“We haven’t been there in seven years, and we get another game against Division One opposition. We’re not going into a vacuum of 10 or 12 weeks before the championship.
“But I think we mixed the good and the bad. There were parts of the game we were very good, but in the second switched off a bit, got a bit sloppy. That leaves us with plenty to work on, which is good, something to get our teeth stuck into over the next two weeks.”
Fitzmaurice, naturally, would have preferred a sterner test, yet this didn’t take the shine off it either: “Well, give credit to our lads. Roscommon beat us in February, and were worthy of their victory that day, whereas today our lads rolled up their sleeves, worked really hard.”
“It will be, and we know if we want to win it we’ll need to be at the top of our game. There’s a great collective thing there at the minute, a sense of selflessness, which we’ve worked on during the league, and it’s something you need if you want to win silverware, whether that’s a national league or a Munster championship or an All-Ireland.
“A lot of out lads don’t have national league medals, and it’s well earned, hard earned, and it would be fantastic, and we’ll be going all out to win it in two weeks’ time.”
Nothing Roscommon joint manager Fergal O’Donnell said could disguise his disappointment, as he listed off a range of excuses, not least a minor dose of stage fright: yet he defended his team’s tactics of going man-to-man with Kerry and trying at least to win the game on the scoreboard.
“You could come up here and park the bus, but in the end that’s just damage limitation,” he said. “You could be beaten by just as much. We can only learn from it and try to improve.
“Maybe if we were a bit smarter in out shot selection we could have knocked the score down, but we didn’t create any goal chances either. We just couldn’t get to the pace of the game.”