Fitzmaurice handed two more years in the Kingdom
Published 07/09/2016 | 02:30
Kerry officials have moved quickly to secure Eamonn Fitzmaurice as their manager by handing him another two years in charge of the Kingdom footballers.
Fitzmaurice was ratified by the clubs at a county board meeting in Tralee last night and if he sees that period out, he will have been in charge of the Kerry team for six seasons.
In late 2015, he was given just a one-year extension to cover the current campaign, prompting speculation he might be ready to walk away from the job after his side's painful exit at the hands of Dublin at the All-Ireland semi-final stage a fortnight ago.
Since their defeat in the championship, Kingdom legend Pat Spillane was amongst those who expected change at the top.
However, while Fitzmaurice himself had been non-committal with regard to his future, Kerry chairman Patrick O'Sullivan insisted he was "confident" the Finuge club man would remain in the hot seat.
The first order of business for Fitzmaurice heading into the new season is likely to establish the intentions of some of his senior stars.
In the wake of the Dublin loss, it is thought that the likes of Marc ó Sé, Aidan O'Mahony, Kieran Donaghy and possibly Colm 'Gooch' Cooper are mulling over whether to commit to the county set-up for another campaign.
Cooper, O'Mahony and Donaghy started against the Dubs while ó Sé made an appearance late on in the game as a substitute, meaning Fitzmaurice could be without a significant block of experience heading into the 2017 season.
In his four seasons to date, Fitzmaurice has led Kerry to a Munster title in each campaign as well an All-Ireland crown in 2014.
However, he has seen his side fall to Dublin at the All-Ireland semi-final stage in both 2013 and 2016 and well as the All-Ireland final of last year.
Fitzmaurice's decision to return for another two seasons means that Jack O'Connor will have to wait a little longer if he is to return for a third shot at managing the Kingdom footballers.
O'Connor has guided Kerry to Sam Maguire twice in the past and more recently helped steer the county's minor footballers to All-Ireland titles in 2014 and 2015.
But O'Connor is set to remain in charge of the county's U-21 side until after the 2018 campaign is concluded.