Monday 9 December 2019

Eamonn Fitzmaurice hails 'exciting time' ahead for champions with Tommy Walsh to return from Oz

Gaelic Games

Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice lifts the Sam Maguire
Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice lifts the Sam Maguire
Kerry joint captains Fionn Fitzgerald, left, and Kieran O'Leary lift the Sam Maguire cup. GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Kerry v Donegal
Kerry players celebrate with the Sam Maguire cup. GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Kerry v Donegal. Croke Park, Dublin
Colm Cooper celebrates on the Croke Park pitch. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

All-Ireland-winning manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice has hailed an "exciting time" for Kerry football which will soon be bolstered by the return of Tommy Walsh from AFL.

Walsh is out of contract with Sydney Swans at the end of the current season and Fitzmaurice acknowledged with a smile yesterday there was a "good chance" that he will return.

Walsh himself has hinted in recent weeks that a move back is on the cards.The prospect of the 2009 All-Ireland winner linking up with this team again will give Kerry a huge range of options.

Fitzmaurice took a leaf out of Jim Gavin's 2013 book by admitting he will set plans for 2015 in motion straight away.

"I remember even the night I was watching the 'Sunday Game' in Kerry and Jim was saying that other teams around the country were making plans for next year already.

"There is of course a sense that thoughts start to turn over to next year," he said.

"We're looking forward to having Colm (Cooper) back in harness again, the growth of those young fellas this year and how much this experience will help them.

"With the winter together, a team holiday that will make them tighter again, a good minor team and some of those young lads coming up, it's very exciting time to be involved in Kerry football."

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Fitzmaurice has admitted that there may be players considering retirement but feels that everyone still has a contribution to make over the next 12 months.

Meanwhile James O'Donoghue has underlined the frustration he felt when Colm Cooper's injury threatened to derail their season in February.

The "footballer of the year" elect admitted he felt a sense of panic initially but then realised that everyone would have to find something different to fill in for what Cooper gave them.

"I remember thinking 'Oh Jesus, What are we going to do.' I remember thinking 'we are in serious trouble.' You kind of half believe the negativity that you are going nowhere.

"Next thing your talisman, your biggest character, your biggest player is injured.

"It's tough going but I think that everyone had that reaction for a couple of weeks but everyone said 'I've got to dig deep, I have to find something different here to replace Colm'.

"All of us had to step up a gear and Colm is going to step into a team that is much better. Now we go about regaining a title.

"I don't think it's ever about one All-Ireland title for Kerry. We're going to go abut regaining it."

O'Donoghue described Cooper's talent as "disgusting" and told how he elevated Kerry training "two levels" last Tuesday night.

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