Quiet satisfaction with win as focus quickly switches to visit of Mayo

Eamonn Fitzmaurice speaks to his players following the Football League Division 1 Round 1 win over Donegal at O'Donnell Park in Letterkenny, Co Donegal. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Eamonn Fitzmaurice speaks to his players following the Football League Division 1 Round 1 win over Donegal at O'Donnell Park in Letterkenny, Co Donegal. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Paul Brennan

Players and management all talk about wanting to be playing games regularly rather than filling big tracts of time with endless training sessions, and at this time of year they usually get what they wish for. On Saturday Kerry host Mayo in Tralee, six days after a 550-mile round trip to Letterkenny. It won't even by St Valentine's Day when Mayo travel south but it will be Kerry's fifth competitive match of the year.

One of Kerry's many stand-out players last Sunday, David Moran is one of those who likes the games coming thick and fast.

"We've Mayo now in six days, Donegal is kind of done now," he told The Kerryman on Sunday. "It's too short a turnaround to be going through this (game) in too much detail. We've a lot of stuff to take from the game but we definitely have a lot to work on for six days. I love the League and the games coming regularly. It's strange because we'll play seven game in the League over something like 10 or 11 weeks and then we won't even have another seven games for the rest of the year.

"It's almost unusual now to be winning the first game of the League but it's always good to get an away game. We probably made a bit of hard work of it in the end but we got the two points and that's all that counts. It was great for some of the young guys, Tom O'Sullivan, Jason Foley, Jack (Savage) to see them out there playing with such confidence in their first League game. Jack Barry when eh came one did fantastic and showed fierce legs at the end of the first half. Tadhg (Morley) played most of the game in the half back line, which was more comfortable for him I suppose, but they're all showing great confidence. They're coming through with minor medals which I think makes a big difference,

"We put up a big score, but maybe a bit concerned with what we conceded. It's something we just need to address because the same thing happened at the end of the Cork game and the Limerick game (in the McGrath Cup). I'm not sure it's something we need to be concerned about but it's definitely something we need to keep our eye on. If we do that again next weekend we could easily get caught."

Moran's manager, Eamonn Fitzmaurice, was equally aware of the rarity of an first round win in the League, but he, too, was looking ahead as much as reflecting on the win.

"We've another tough game but it's a home game and there should be a good atmosphere in Tralee. Mayo came strong near the end (against Monaghan) but they didn't manage to get anything out of the game. I'm sure they'll be anxious for points as well next weekend," Fitzmaurice said.

"It's great to get the win and great to get two points on the board. It's the first time since I've taken over that we've won the first League game so it's definitely a positive from that point of view. We're a good bit from the finished article, you could see that again today. There were patches of very good football, there were patches when we were rusty, particularly the last quarter of the game we got a bit rudderless and Donegal got on top of us, but overall we're delighted we won the game. We have two points but we're going to have to improve again for next weekend but it's good to have two point son the road up in Letterkenny.

Like Moran, Fitzmaurice was aware that a nine-point win was whittled down to an uncomfortable three points at the end, but overall the manager was pleased with more aspects of the performance than there were negatives.

"It was just as well the gap was as big as it was, that we were able to see it out. And there was some good defending from the lads near the end to see it out. We probably made it a bit harder on ourselves than we needed to but that's a learning thing. Early in the League, in particular,you're looking at the result and we're happy to have got the two points.

"(Kerry's first goal) was a great reaction to (Donegal goal) to get up the field so quickly and get a goal straight away. We had started quite well and the penalty seemed to be against the run of play, and it brought them right back into it, but we responded and we kind of kicked on from there. As I say, we played a lot of good football, we got a lot of good scores, but definitely have to work on the last quarter. There was a good spread of scores and the lads were accurate. We hit the post a couple of times and we hit the bar, there was other chances as well, so overall delighted with the win.

"I think (the debutants) all did very well because it is a huge step up and no matter how much a player is told that or how much it's said in general of how much of a step up it is, until lads experience it and we can see how they get on you don't know. Today I thought all the lads did well. Jack Barry came in as well for his first game in the League and he made a big impact for a fella that had to come on so soon in the game with Shane (Enright) going off. Delighted with the younger lads and it was good for them to get that football under their belt."


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