Éamonn Fitzmaurice admits error in Paul Geaney semi-final substitution and criticises 'negative coverage' of game
Reappointed Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice has admitted that it was possibly an error to replace Paul Geaney during the All-Ireland SFC semi-final loss to Dublin, as well as revealing that it was decided as far back as July that he would remain at the helm.
Fitzmaurice, who was ratified by the County Board in Tralee last night, has agreed to guide Kerry for another two years, having first assumed the reins in 2012.
In that time, he has guided them to an All-Ireland title in 2014 and four successive Munster Championships.
However, their most recent loss to Dublin in the penultimate round seems to have only further highlighted what looks a growing disparity between the counties. The Dubs also beat Kerry in last year’s decider as well as this season’s League final.
Speaking to RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta on Wednesday, Fitzmaurice conceded that Jim Gavin’s men are currently setting the benchmark for football excellence.
“Dublin have the upper hand on us at the moment, and it’s hard for any Kerryman to admit that ... We need to win a match against Dublin, and we need to do it soon. We have what it takes.”
With regards to the semi-final defeat, which was as compelling a contest as seen in this year’s Championship, the manager said it could have been a mistake to call Geaney ashore for Marc ó Sé with three minutes on the clock and Dublin just a point ahead.
Geaney had registered 1-4 on the day and helped create Darran O'Sullivan's major as Kerry hit Dublin for an unanswered 2-4 in the first half.
He also criticised referee David Gough, presumably for not taking action after Kevin McManamon’s shuddering hit on Peter Crowley.
“Perhaps we should have left Paul on the pitch. He’s the best forward in the country at the moment. It may have been a mistake. But the analysis always points to the person who’s not there as the key to a win, but that’s too easy.
"I have great respect for Dublin. We have the fitness and the skill as well, but the big change in Dublin in the last 6 or 7 years is their mental strength, how good they are when they’re under pressure.”
“The referee made mistakes on the day ... but even with the mistakes, we should have won. We made mistakes, particularly in the last 10 minutes and they are costly mistakes. We need to improve our composure at the end of matches, that’s our challenge for next year.”
He went on to the reveal that almost as soon as Tipperary had been dispatched of in the provincial showcase, it had all been confirmed that he would remain in charge. He also hopes to retain current selectors Mikey Sheehy and Diarmuid Murphy.
“I spoke to Patrick O’Sullivan during the League, and again after the Munster Final in July, and I had made the decision by then really, the players knew I was staying, but there was an official process to go through to get approval from the County Board.
“I need to give the lads time. There’s a lot of work and time put in, and you don’t get much thanks. I hope they’ll be back next year, but I don’t know yet.”
Speaking of the current status quo in the game, Fitzmaurice lamented a prevailing negativity and he is hopeful for a shift in perception.
“One of the things that stands out is that there is a lot of negative coverage around matches and structures. People are giving out, but they don’t go to the matches. We have to change that mentality because it’s not good. People need to go to the matches, and to be more positive.”