Goal concession rate a key concern for Fitzmaurice
Published 16/07/2015 | 02:30
There's managing the Kerry team and then there's managing expectations that come with the job.
Having been at pains to point out that Cork are a good side before the drawn Munster final, Eamonn Fitzmaurice is now dealing the reaction from a county that quite simply expected normal service to continue in Killarney a fortnight ago.
As the game turned out, they were lucky to maintain their 20-year unbeaten record in Fitzgerald Stadium against their local rivals.
"I think Kerry (fans are) so funny in that before the drawn game everybody thought we were unbeatable, now this week we are useless. There's no middle ground in Kerry," Fitzmaurice reflected.
"I knew last week, that we weren't as good as we were being made out to be.
"It's the same this week, we are not as bad as people are making us out to be now, because I know we are quite close to getting things right, there are things that we need to get right.
"Again, no more than what I said before the drawn game, if we do get things right, it will take a very good team to beat us."
Plenty of negative commentary surrounded the Cork team in the build-up to the drawn game, and the Kerry boss concedes that could have seeped into his side's psyche.
"Complacency can seep in because you're in an environment where the general mood around the county coming up to the game was one of confidence and over-confidence.
"Regardless of what you're doing inside in the camp, it's not like in a professional environment where fellas are very isolated from the real world.
"All the lads are working and are out amongst the community so if that's the vibe that's out there, that's the vibe that soaks in.
"Last year we were trying to protect the players from the overly negative vibe that was out there pre- the Cork game, and there was a very negative vibe out there pre-Cork last year and we had to try to make sure that that wasn't seeping into the players.
"It was the reverse on this occasion before last week's game.
"Now, whether the lads needed to see it, they saw it last Sunday and they know what we all knew really before we went in, but it was confirmed that Cork are a very good team.
"They didn't finish in top of the league for the craic of it, that's a team that have consistent form and are playing consistently well."
Fitzmaurice has been forthright in his view that Kerry are lucky to be still in the running.
He admits that the performance of management on the line, the defensive effort and general application are areas where they will look to improve this weekend.
"There are a lot of areas where we were second best. Cork got it right on a lot of fronts and both on the sideline and on the field I think Cork was better on the day, so we all have to improve."
"I have never been shy in saying it, that it doesn't take a genius to know we didn't have a great day on the line," said Fitzmaurice.
"We didn't adapt. Too much can be made of the plans that are in place. When they go well you look like a genius, when they don't work you look like you don't have a clue.
"When things don't work out everything is up for grabs and I know that. I would agree we didn't have a good day at the office and I've no problem with that."
Kerry are tipped to make a handful of changes to the side for Saturday's replay but having conceded three goals, it's rearguard action that could see the most surgery.
"If you're conceding three goals every day out, you're not going to win championships, it's as simple as that.
"So the lads know themselves where the mistakes were made, they don't need me to be pointing out on videos to them that the goals weren't good enough.
"It's a cause for concern of course and it is something that we have to work on and it's something that we have got to get right for next Saturday and for the games after that if we are still involved - be it going down the qualifying route or going straight to Croke Park.
"So it is an area of concern and it has been an area of concern, it was one of the things we got right last year from the point of view of winning the All-Ireland."