Eamonn Fitzmaurice eased himself into the Kerry hot seat with a 24-point demolition job of a poor IT Tralee outfit in this preliminary round game at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney.
The game was over as a contest by half-time as Kerry led 3-12 to 0-4, with goal poacher supreme Paul Geaney scoring twice and cousin Mikey netting once as Kerry's new midfield pairing of Kieran Donaghy and captain for the day Johnny Buckley (Dr Crokes) dominated throughout.
Kerry's full-back line really impressed, with Fionn Fitzgerald and Shane Enright on either side of Marc O Se catching the eye.
Tralee dropped the bulk of their players behind the ball but they could not stem the Kerry onslaught in the second half, with full-forward Patrick Curtin cutting loose with 1-4 while Paul O'Connor (0-3) and Barry John Keane (0-2) came of the bench to heap misery on Tralee, who play St Mary's in the Sigerson Cup later this month.
Fitzmaurice (right) was pleased with the run-out. "It's job done, delighted to have had a game. Of course fellas were going to be rusty, but we're up and running, with another game again next weekend to look forward to. That's the name of the game – the longer we can stay in the McGrath Cup, the better in terms of preparation for the league."
What about the younger players – was the Kerry boss happy? "They did well. You can only ask lads to show up and have a good attitude and all those (new) lads played well."
Donaghy was influential in midfield, but does the Kerry boss expect him to stay there?
"It's very early days yet, we're looking at different things. The McGrath Cup, by its nature, is going to be experimental," Fitzmaurice explained.
"We'll have Kieran again next weekend, hopefully, as long as his injury isn't too serious. After that he's getting married and he'll be away on honeymoon, so he is going to miss the first two games of the league – it'll be the month of March before we see him again, after next weekend.
"He did very well there today; we're delighted with his performance. We'll see, but at the moment we're just having a look at different things, and performances today."
Fitzmaurice also confirmed that Aidan O'Mahony will be the only senior player he has to add to the Kerry squad for next weekend's quarter-final clash against UCC while the Crokes trio of Fitzgerald, Buckley and Looney will return to their club after the UCC game.
Later on in the evening, the Kerry boss and most of the his senior squad looked on at the White Collar Fight Night as Kerry hurlers and footballers traded blows in front of a packed INEC Killarney, as the latest Kerry teams training fundraiser thrilled the boisterous crowd.
Scorers – Kerry: P Geaney 2-4 (1f), P Curtin 1-5, M Geaney 1-1, J Buckley, P O'Connor (1f), B Looney (1 '45') 0-3 each, BJ Keane 0-2, D O'Sullivan 0-1. IT Tralee: A O'Donoghue 0-3 (3f); S Carroll 0-2 (1f); B Poff, D Wallace, R Deane, S Killeen, S McCarthy 0-1 each.
Kerry – B Kelly; F Fitzgerald, M O Se, S Enright; J Lyne, J Sherwood, K Young; K Donaghy, J Buckley (capt); M Geaney, D O'Sullivan, M O'Donoghue; B Looney, P Curtin, P Geaney. Subs: D Culhane for O Se (35), BJ Keane for O'Sullivan (35), T O Se for Lyne (54), P O'Connor for P Geaney (54), A Garnett for Buckley 55.
IT Tralee – P O'Sullivan; C Farrell, J Scully; S McCarthy, G O'Grady, M Brosnan; R Deane, D Somers; D Wallace, I Corbett, B Poff; A O'Donoghue, S Carroll, B O'Hare. Subs: D Cahalane for Farrell (35), D Murphy for Wallace (49), D Mannix for O'Hare (49), S Killeen for Somers (56), N Curran for Corbett (63).
Ref – K O'Brien (Tipperary).