Sport Gaelic Football

Monday 23 April 2018

'No hiding place' for under-pressure Kingdom – Fitzmaurice

Eamonn Fitzmaurice
Eamonn Fitzmaurice
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

KERRY'S backs may still be firmly against the wall as they travel to Donegal tomorrow still chasing their first points of the season, but manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice feels light is starting to appear at the end of the tunnel.

"We were probably unlucky that we did not get any points last weekend," he said.

"We only scored 12 points but we shot 16 wides and had a couple into the goalkeeper's hands so, with a higher conversion rate, we could have been celebrating a win or at least a draw.

"That was the most pleasing aspect of our performance in Newbridge, that we created plenty of scoring chances while, against Dublin, we were toothless really."

Having to travel to Donegal will not help the Kingdom in their bid to break out of their shocking slump.

But Fitzmaurice feels that the All-Ireland champions are also under pressure and insists that his side are not yet completely consigned to the drop.

"Look, there is no hiding place, at this stage now we need to start getting points – it's a tough league and there are no easy games.

"Playing the All-Ireland champions and looking for your first brace of league points is not ideal, but Donegal need the points as well.

"If we can (win), we are certainly going in the right direction and any of five teams, including ourselves, could go on a winning run, could turn the threat of relegation into a semi-final spot – that's how competitive the league is."

Kerry are still without some marquee forwards as well as free-taking ace Bryan Sheehan.

They have three changes this week, with Peter Crowley, Darran O'Sullivan and Michael Geaney replacing Michael O'Donoghue, Barry John Keane and Kieran O'Leary.

Ten players that featured in Kerry's quarter-final loss to Donegal last summer are still included, and once again Kieran Donaghy has been selected at midfield with O'Sullivan named at full-forward.

Fitzmaurice stressed that Donaghy's midfield position is "not set in stone" and it looks likely that he will be shifted to full-forward at some stage again, as he was last week.

The Kerry manager is certainly looking to improve the quality of ball going into their forwards.

"There is no point in having Kieran inside in the full-forward line if there is no supply of ball going into him and it's not a decent supply of ball," he said.

"He was very prominent in the middle of the field for us against Kildare, but he also won an amount of ball in there when he went in, when some of the ball that went into him could be described as fairly marginal.

"It's a situation that we have a very open mind on."

Kerry (SF v Donegal) – B Kealy; M O Se, A O'Mahony, S Enright; T O Se, K Young, P Crowley; K Donaghy, E Brosnan; J Lyne, D Walsh, J Buckley; J O'Donoghue, Darran O'Sullivan, M Geaney.

Irish Independent

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