Kerry closing in on their new senior football manager
Of the three main candidates, two aren’t yet entirely convinced they have the time for it
Kerry selector Maurice Fitzgerald. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Kerry are seven days from naming their new Kerry senior football manager and the last task is not so much who will they get but how: of the three main candidates to succeed Éamonn Fitzmaurice, it appears two aren’t yet entirely convinced they have the time for it.
What is certain is that the committee charged with finding their man – Kerry chairman Tim Murphy, secretary Peter Twiss, development officer Eamonn Whelan and coaching officer Terence Houlihan – have given themselves a deadline of next Monday. That evening the new name will go before club delegates for ratification.
Outgoing minor manager Peter Keane was the early frontrunner. Last month, in his third season, he guided Kerry to a fifth successive minor All-Ireland, and also had some successful club roles with St Mary’s of Cahirsiveen and Legion, but his lack of senior management experience may ultimately come against him.
Former senior manager Jack O’Connor, who went back to guide Kerry to the first two of those five minor titles, and now acts as under-20 manager, has already suggested he’s happy where he is, but the Kerry committee may yet convince him otherwise.
O’Connor took over as Kerry football manager after Páidí Ó Sé’s term was somewhat abruptly ended at the end of the 2003 season: in his first season in charge, O’Connor guided Kerry back to the top, winning the 2004 All-Ireland, and again in 2006 and in 2009, when returning for a second stint.
Last week Maurice Fitzgerald, the 1997 Footballer of the Year, emerged as the preferred candidate, having worked as a selector under Fitzmaurice for the past two seasons. He also managed his own club, St Mary’s of Cahirsiveen, to the All-Ireland intermediate title in 2016, but having recently taken over as principal of Coláiste na Sceilge, it’s unclear whether or not his workload would allow it.
All three leading candidates would bring their own strengths. Keane’s close relationship with the emerging Kerry minors is not being underestimated. But after 2007 All-Ireland winning manager Pat O’Shea ruled himself out, having taken up the position as Munster football development manager, only one of them has delivered a senior All-Ireland before.