Sunday 11 December 2016

Fitzmaurice wary of 'scintillating' Roscommon forwards

Published 09/04/2016 | 02:30

Eamonn Fitzmaurice (SPORTSFILE)
Eamonn Fitzmaurice (SPORTSFILE)

Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice has warned that there is no guarantee their recent good form will be enough to turn over Roscommon in tomorrow's league semi-final clash in Croke Park.

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Back in February, Roscommon beat Kerry in Killarney for their first win on Kerry soil and while the Kingdom have won five games on the bounce since then, Fitzmaurice believes Roscommon have the talent to turn them over for the second time in a period of months.

"We set out to win the (Roscommon) game, but we knew the challenge that was facing us that day as well," recalled the Kerry manager.

"We didn't have a whole pile done and we knew they had a good pile done. We know they have excellent footballers. They are well coached, in particular up front. They have some scintillating forwards. We know they are going to be a big challenge again on Sunday.

"I think if there is a perception out there that we were undercooked last February and we are suddenly going to be able to beat them in a league semi-final - it doesn't work that way.

"We are going to have to be at our best on Sunday and we are going to have to improve again for this weekend if we want to win the game. And if we are any way off at all, we know that Roscommon have the quality to beat us."

Kerry haven't met the Rossies in a knockout game since the All-Ireland quarter-final of 2003. Fitzmaurice played that day, as did current stars Marc ó Sé and Colm Cooper. Cooper looked sharp when kicking six points in last weekend's win over Cork in Tralee, while ó Sé also chipped in with a crucial point, wandering forward to kick a score when Cork had drawn level with ten minutes to play.

"The lads are remarkable, but at the same time, they are really enjoying their football," Fitzmaurice said.

"That is visible. They are great physical condition and that allows them to keep playing; why wouldn't you when you are able to do it physically?

"The only thing that gets a bit more challenging when you get older is that if you are not getting as much football as you would like to be getting and that's hard to motivate yourself to keep going, I mean the lads are hugely important members of our set-up. They are really enjoying their football."

Kerry's winning run puts them second only to all-conquering Dublin in terms of form this year and while they are just 70 minutes from a national final, Fitzmaurice acknowledges that they'll be judged on their performance in the championship.

"At the end of the day, we will be judging ourselves on championship, but at the same time, it is good to be getting that winning habit going early in the year."

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