NEW Kerry football team manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice will get his first taste of senior inter-county management this Saturday when Kerry take on IT Tralee in the McGrath Cup but Fitzmaurice will be forced to field quite a makeshift team on his first outing.
The manager is excited about getting the season off to an early start and hopeful of notching up a few wins in January but he will also quickly become aware of the contradictions of the McGrath Cup.
Widely perceived as a competition in which to cast a more critical eye over players who are on the fringe of a county panel, it is precisely some of those players who will not be available to Fitzmaurice for the duration of the McGrath Cup, such is their obligation to play with their third-level colleges in the competition.
Injuries are also curtailing Fitzmaurice's options with Bryan Sheehan, Donnchadh Walsh, Aidan O'Mahony and Declan O'Sullivan all unavailable.
Colm Cooper, Eoin Brosnan, Kieran O'Leary and Paul Galvin are committed to their clubs in preparation for the imminent All-Ireland Club semi-finals, while Anthony Maher will be with his club Duagh for Sundsay's North Kerry final replay.
Limited options notwithstanding, the new manager is looking forward to his first outing as senior team boss.
"I'm happy out at the way things are going at the moment. It's a chance for others fellas and it forces us (management) to look at other fellas and that can only be a good thing in the long term," Fitzmaurice says.
"With regard to a panel we still don't really have a panel in place. In terms of the McGrath Cup it's really more about who we are missing than who we have available to us. We are down a lot of bodies. We will finalise the panel for next Saturday's game on Wednesday night after training."
Meanwhile, IT Tralee manager Wayne Quillinan will call on up to a dozen Kerry players for his team to face Kerry in Fitzgerald Stadium on Saturday (throw-in at 2pm), and Quillinan is confident that the students will be very competitive in this year's competition.