Marc Ó Sé backing Fitzmaurice to remain as Kerry manager
Former Kingdom star says current boss remains the best man for the job
Marc Ó Sé and Anthony Daly at the eir Sport pack season launch. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
“He is classically the type of man who would miss the warning signals, the quiet rhythms of the assassins’ murmurs, the hints that he was about to be ambushed,” wrote the late Aengus Fanning after Páidí Ó Sé was removed in the cold months of 2003 after Tyrone usurpers followed their Armagh neighbours up the Hogan Stand steps.
Kerry footballers know better than most that history provides enough warnings of the repercussions when Sam Maguire eludes the county.
With no All-Ireland since 2000, despite ending an 11-year famine in 1997, the dismissal came soon after Ó Sé’s “f**king animals” quote, in an interview with Kevin Kimmage, to describe how a large tranche of Kerry supporters handle losing.
This history lesson is being heeded however and there are those who intend to protect Éamonn Fitzmaurice from suffering a similar fate.
With familiar rumblings of disaffection arising in the Kingdom since defeat to Mayo, Marc Ó Sé followed his uncle’s lead in a recent Mail On Sunday column but this time there appears more method than madness in the words.
“But I just don’t think we were good enough. I genuinely don’t. Certainly mistakes were made on the day but nobody knows that more than Éamonn. Every manager makes mistakes. I have no doubt he is the best manager there to do the job.”
Ó Sé looked to Tyrone and their decision to extend Mickey Harte’s reign to 2020 as an example Kerry football should follow.
“Their county board showed great faith in him [Harte] and we need to look at something similar with Éamonn. He needs time to rebuild.”
Examples are provided.
“When have you seen a manager or a team put Stephen Cluxton under as much pressure as we did in the semi-final last year? The 2014 final against Donegal, Éamonn tactically got it really right that day.
“People are really quick to write him off. And it’s from our own county. It’s not the journalists. These are the same fellas, as I wrote, that don’t even go to the matches. They wait for the final.”
The same “f**king animals” Páidí mentioned.
Now, in 2004 Jack O’Connor arrived and, along with Pat O’Shea, guided a phenomenal generation to four All-Irelands in six seasons.
“Possibly we had it too good,” Ó Sé added of the September-only visitors to Croke Park.
“This Kerry minor team will need time,” Ó Sé believes as the four-in-a-row chasing teenagers led by AFL target David Clifford are eased into senior football.
“Éamonn will need time with them. He has one year left on his contract but I think they should extend it. I’ve played under him and his attention to detail with everything, and that’s coming from a player he dropped in 2014, when he was ruthless enough, but I would still have great time and respect for the way he goes about his business.
“We are very lucky that we have a very decent county board. They are progressive people. I think they would see that Éamonn is the man.”
Dublin hovers over all winter meditation on football matters in the kingdom. “I don’t think there is anyone out there that will stop Dublin at the moment. No way,” concluded the former Kerry legend.
l The Galway hurlers are in Kenny Park, Athenry tonight for the Tony Keady Fundraiser Challenge Match which will include players from the victorious Galway teams of 1987 and 1988 as well as members of the current senior and minor squads. Admission is €10 with throw in at 6.30pm.