Fitzmaurice not surprised by 'flat' Rebels' exit
Despite spending Saturday evening in Kingspan Breffni Park to watch Westmeath take on Fermanagh, Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice insists he isn't surprised that Kildare turned over Cork to earn a crack at his All-Ireland champions.
Had the Rebels prevailed, Fitzmaurice would be preparing his side for a clash with the Erne men. However, they'll now take on the Lilies on Sunday afternoon in Croke Park instead.
"It isn't a huge surprise, because we knew it was one of the permutations that could come out of the game," said Fitzmaurice, who sent assistant Cian O'Neill to Semple stadium to take in the action there.
"Cork were flat, and Kildare were coming into the game with momentum, and we will have to be careful with that next weekend.
"Kildare played with fierce vibrancy and confidence. It was not that much of a surprise.
"Now, if Cork had played like they can play, and played the way they played against us the first day, you would have expected Cork to beat Kildare, but they did not reproduce that form on Saturday night, for whatever reason.
"The Munster Championship seemed to have taken a good bit out of them."
Fitzmaurice agreed that the quick turnaround from the Munster final replay might have worked against the Rebels
"First of all, the stat is there - it's hard to turn it around in a short space of time," he said.
"Usually it's six days - Cork had seven days alright - but they obviously put a lot into the Munster Championship, and had placed a lot of store in beating Kerry in that Munster Championship.
"I think from that point of view there was definitely a hangover the following weekend.
"Having said that, if Conor Dorman's palm off the bar had gone in - there was a six-point swing there in two minutes - but it hit the crossbar. Niall Kelly went up and got a goal two minutes later, and it was effectively game over after that."
The result leaves Brian Cuthbert fighting to save his job and Fitzmaurice is full of sympathy for the position his counterpart finds himself in.
"There's strength in numbers when you're a player," he said. "But when you're the manager you are out there on your own.
"Of course from a human point of view that's not a very nice place to be."
Fitzmaurice confirmed that Kerry will pick from a fully fit panel for this weekend's last-eight clash, with the exception of Kieran O'Leary.
"We are good injury-wise and again only Kieran O'Leary is ruled out, so we have a clean bill of health," he said.