Monday 22 January 2018

Munster chief hails Kerry's McGrath U-turn

Eamonn Fitzmaurice
Eamonn Fitzmaurice

EamonN Fitzmaurice has already put a stamp on his Kerry reign by deciding to enter the team in the pre-season McGrath Cup.

The Kingdom won the competition in 2011 but opted not to defend their title this year after then-manager Jack O'Connor decided to give it a miss. New manager Fitzmaurice (right) will use the McGrath Cup to take a look at some of his fringe players, but he will have to plan without those who are attending third-level colleges.

Munster chairman Sean Walsh -- who criticised O'Connor's decision to withdraw last season -- has warmly welcomed the return of his native county to the January competition.

"I am delighted to see Kerry back in the McGrath Cup because, in my opinion, they should have never been out of it in the first place," he said.

"My feelings on Kerry's withdrawal last year are well documented. It did the competition no good, as Kerry were beaten All-Ireland finalists and the holders.

"I remember the McGrath Cup final in 2011 when there was a big crowd watching Kerry beat Clare at the Dr Crokes pitch in Killarney and I think it was beneficial to Kerry."

According to Walsh, there are clear benefits to the stronger counties participating in the McGrath Cup.

"This competition will enable Eamonn Fitzmaurice and the new management team to take a look at players that they may have spotted playing well in the county championship, and other fringe players who have not been getting a lot of game time."

Walsh confirmed that colleges will have first call on their players, once they submit them on the players list in advance, and he also intimated that the Waterford Crystal hurling competition will start earlier in January to avoid clashing with Fitzgibbon Cup games.

Irish Independent

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