Fitz braced for Rebels

Paul Brennan

As satisfying as it was for the Kerry management to see their team - and especially the seven Championship debutants who started - hammer Clare by 22 points, manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice was quick to temper expectations ahead of the Munster Final against Cork on June 23 by suggesting that Kerry will face a much different - and harder - test in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in less than three weeks.

"We will absolutely [be asked tougher questions by Cork]. The Cork challenge is a different challenge," Fitzmaurice said "I don't need to talk them up, they were very impressive in Thurles (against Tipperary) last weekend. They've a new management. They're playing to a set style, they're organised, they're fit, they're hungry, they've a point to prove. I've never gone down to Páirc Uí Chaoimh in my life and got anything easy so, look, we haven't thought about it yet, but it's a huge reward for the lads for winning the game today, to get to go up and play a Munster final on a Saturday evening, which will have a novelty factor in it too and a new stadium. Yeah, a big challenge and we'll have to get ready for it, but great to be preparing for that.

He continued: "Cork are Cork, they've a lot of good players. Ronan McCarthy during the league he was very steady regardless of the results and that was going to breed a different atmosphere in the group that there wasn't going to be knee-jerk reactions, there wasn't going to be an atmosphere of looking to the outside. So while they didn't have a great league you could see that they were content and they were going forward and there was just a different feel about them. I felt there was a lot of talk and a lot of bluster coming out of Tipperary so I felt they were in a very dangerous spot, and I felt Cork were in a very good spot. So it didn't surprise me at all and it won't surprise me in a couple of weeks when they bring as much and more to Páirc Uí Chaoimh because they will."

As for the business of last Sunday Fitzmaurice conceded that the excitement that was evident among the Kerry supporters in Fitzgerald Stadium was also there among the management and players.

"Of course there's excitement," he said "but I think in 2014 the team changed a good bit that year. A lot of fellas came through who wouldn't have played a whole pile of football previously, some of them made their debuts in 2014, so we've been there before. But of course it's exciting working with young players and when you see them fulfilling their potential and playing well that's what the buzz is, that's what the kick is, and it's exciting with young players. But it's also exciting when you see senior players playing well and fellas changing their game to suit what we're trying to do and so on and bringing it to the table. It's enjoyable when you're winning obviously."