'He has been huge for the forwards' - How Kerry legend Maurice Fitzgerald helped spark Kieran Donaghy's resurgence
It's a testament to the continued greatness of Kieran Donaghy that the question of how Mayo will deal with the full forward in this Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final has dominated the pre-match build-up.
The three-time All Star gave a dominant aerial display in the Kingdom's comprehensive quarter-final win over Galway three weeks ago, and Kerry fans will be hoping that Donaghy can continue his havoc-wreaking form against Mayo when he takes the field this weekend.
Remarkably, despite turning 34 this season, Donaghy looks to be in top form at the moment, something that Irish Independent chief sports writer Vincent Hogan thinks is down to Kerry selector Maurice Fitzgerald.
Eamonn Fitzmaurice added the legendary forward to his backroom team for 2017, and speaking to The Throw-In, Independent.ie's GAA podcast, Hogan said that one of the reasons for Donaghy's resurgence is that he is under the tutelage of Fitzgerald.
"There has been a lot of talk in Kerry that Maurice Fitz's addition to the backroom staff has been huge for the forwards, that he is doing a lot of one to ones with them," Hogan said.
"If you look at Donaghy's goal the last day, he had an awful lot to do having made that incredible catch. His footwork, the way he adjusted, the way he got away from the defender and the finish - it suggests to me that he has gone up a notch from the Donaghy we thought was in his prime a good few years ago.
"I'm really surprised by that because I know that he was gutted when the Gooch retired. He didn't expect the Gooch to retire and they had been very close and very tight and everything he did on the pitch, the Gooch kind of took him under his wing. The Gooch would be talking to him and the Gooch retiring would have been a big blow to him psychologically because he had already committed to staying for another season. He probably had a little period where he was having seconds thoughts. But I get the impression that Maurice Fitz has been in his ear a lot and he is a real weapon and it is going to be really interesting to see how Mayo cope with him."
Subscribe to The Throw-In, Independent.ie's weekly Championship podcast, for the best in GAA discussion and analysis every Monday, with some of the biggest names in football and hurling from Joe Brolly, Tomás Ó'Sé, Brendan Cummins and John Mullane.