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Vincent Hogan: Fans ban a nervous step backwards for Kerry

IT'S hard not to sense something pretty profound slipping from the aura of Kerry football with Eamonn Fitzmaurice's decision to close the gates to supporters during training.

Fitzmaurice (right) explained his call in an open letter on the county's website this week, observing that in recent years the monitoring of training had "on occasions, become much more than harmless curiosity".

A belief that open training sessions simply facilitate the intelligence gathering of future opponents prompted what Fitzmaurice confirmed was "a difficult decision". Supporters will now gain access to Fitzgerald Stadium only on pre-flagged 'open' evenings.

It's a watershed call because, for all the supposed technical and tactical sophistication of Gaelic football in recent times, Kerry still won more All-Irelands (four) in the first decade of the noughties than any other county.

True, their last title was '09, but the purity and innate confidence of football in the Kingdom always seemed to impart a psychological edge to teams wearing the green and gold. Fitzmaurice's move seems like a tacit admission that that edge has now disappeared.

It smacks, thus, of a nervous step backwards into the general pack, rather than the declaration of independence that would, traditionally, have been the Kerry way.

Has Eamonn, unwittingly, just conceded the first ground of summer?

Irish Independent