IT can never be easy for a schoolteacher to head back to the classroom after three months of a summer break, but this week and next that exactly what they nation's teachers have been doing. Back in Dingle the pupils and staff of Pobal Scoil Chorca Dhuibhne made an early start to the school year with the first of them back in business on Monday.
On Monday Eamonn Fitzmaurice arrived back to the day job the same person as he had left it back in early June. Almost.
His second morning back and Fitzmaurice's life had taken on a far more colourful hue. One of the school's more recognisable staff members already, by virtue of his success as a Kerry footballer, Eamonn had just the night before been appointed manager of the Kerry senior football team. Life just won't be the same again. At least not for the next three years that the 36year old has committed to the hottest managerial seat in the country.
A cool customer to those who only know him from a distance, those who have shared a dressing room with him or who have walked a sideline with him might say different. Underneath that calm, polite exterior there is a driven football man. For every person who will, rightly, tell you Fitzmaurice is a gentleman as 'as nice a fella you could meet' there is a team mate or an opponent that will assure you he is a drive, determined - ruthless, even - football man who has a hard streak in him that will be vital every day for the next three years.
Hewn out of the north Kerry soil and shaped and hardened by Finuge football and Lixnaw hurling, before being polished by a distinguished career in the Green and Gold, Fitzmaurice has an edge, a steely determination to succeed and to do things the right way that has probably been the crucial factor in him getting this job.
He has been the popular, and probably unanimous, choice to succeed Jack O'Connor but he will be his own man. His leadership qualities have long since been recognised since his playing days and steadily and with great promise the Finuge man has been tipping his toe, then his foot, in the managerial game. Now, he is fully immersed. In at the deep end, some might say. It was an easy decision for Fitzmaurice, but not an automatic one.
"Excited and daunted in equal measure," is Eamonn's first disclosure to TheKerryman as he takes a phonecall inbetween classes in the Pobalscoil. 'Daunted' might suggest that Fitzmaurice has bitten off more than he can chew but there should be nothing lost in translation here. He is up for this job and ready for this job and isn't afraid of this job. But he does know the job of work that lies ahead and he is hungry for the challenge.
"When Jack decided he was going I knew people were mentioning my name in connection with the job but, to be honest, I had reservations at the start. I had to think very seriously about it. Not because I didn't want to manage the Kerry team but there were a couple of major considerations.
"I had two big concerns in considering whether or not to take the job. With the Under-21s I felt we had put down a big foundation of work this year and I felt there was a lot of unfinished business with that team. But once it fell into place that Darragh (O Se) would be taking over (as Under-21 manager) I was confident that there would be minimum disruption to the Under-21s.
"The other consideration was my family and the commitment involved in taking
the job. It's a huge job and I couldn't do it without the backing of my family, especially my wife Tina. Once I had the full support of her and my family it was an easy decision."
He admits also that the fact he has "soldiered with some of the older lads" on the current senior panel and the worry that there might be a conflict there was a slight issue for him, but he has reconcilled that problem fairly easy.
"First, I've been involved with the majority of the current players either in my capacity as a senior selector with Jack in 2009 and 2010 or as the Under-21 manager last year so I'm not exactly coming in cold into the job.
"As for the notion this team is on the decline, all I know is that I was there for the loss to Donegal and I saw plenty to be optimistic about. I saw the lads up close and personal and physically the older lads all have the stuff to keep going for at least another year. They just have to assess their own personal situations, some of them have young family now, and they have to ask if they still have the appetite for more.
"There are lots of great young lads out there too. I know first hand from working with the Under21s, and I was at the All-Ireland Junior final at the weekend so I know the talent is there. It's just about getting the balance right."
And the outlook for the next three years?
"The big enjoyment in management is when you can get a group of players to be successful and playing to a system that you've devised and that they all carry out as you hope they will. Donegal are definitely changing the face of football but there's still room for traditional football, as we know it, with a few tweaks to it. People have been talking about the Donegal system but to be fair to them they have a lot of really talented footballers and they have prepared very well.
"My hope is to keep faithful to the Kerry way and to implement a system of play that serves our footballers best."