Wednesday 24 January 2018

Kerry pair 'up against clock' for Cavan date

Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice during squad training at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney
Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice during squad training at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney

Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice will give Aidan O'Mahony and James O'Donoghue as much time as they need to recover from injuries that have made them doubts for Sunday's All-Ireland quarter-final.

However he conceded that this weekend's Cavan clash "might be a small bit early" for the pair.

O'Mahony missed the Munster final win over Cork earlier in the month with a dislocated elbow which has caused him some distress.

O'Donoghue has a hamstring injury and, given his performance against Cork in Killarney and his key role in the side's game plan, the management are willing to bide their time with him.

Already without Jonathan Lyne, Fitzmaurice will be keen to see his hand strengthened.

"Both players have made good progress but they will be up against the clock. It's a wait-and-see, they are improving day by day," he said.

"James has a hamstring problem and it's still not quite right. We will give him until as late as possible this week and see does it come right.

"Aidan has made remarkable progress for a fella who has dislocated an elbow. It's down to his dedication and his ability to go through the pain barrier, because the pain he has gone through over the past few weeks has been gruesome. He has been very determined and he has made massive strides."

One thing Fitzmaurice won't be doing is throwing out a dummy team to the public ahead of the match. It is not a practice he wishes to embrace for any perceived edge – he admitted that he knew the Cork team ahead of the three changes Conor Counihan made from the list in the programme on Munster final day.

"Every manager is entitled to do what he wants to gain that edge. Take the example of Kieran (Donaghy) the last day. I felt it would be very unfair if we named him in the team," he said.

"If the team came out on a Thursday night, then for Friday and Saturday, he was trying to avoid everyone.

"I don't know what he would say to his family, but his family were ringing him up and asking him how he was feeling and wishing him best of luck.

"I just think it puts the player who is losing out in an awkward situation, so from that point of view I wouldn't be a fan of it. My philosophy is name your team and get on with it, put it out there and away you go."

Deploying

Fitzmaurice conceded that he might have been better deploying Donaghy at midfield from the moment he came in against Cork the last day as the tide turned against Kerry in that area at a critical stage.

"He came out and made a big contribution. He was on ball, he was busy and he got a great tap-down to Declan (O'Sullivan) from the last kick-out that was very important," he said.

"Because if Cork had got possession maybe Marty Duffy would have allowed them one last attack and who knows what might have happened, as we were a bit dishevelled and a bit panicky at that stage. It was a vital play at the time."

Fitzmaurice has also acknowledged that substitutions might have been made earlier in the Munster final when legs and minds were tiring.

"Some teams have their substitutions planned," he said. "Everyone figured out that Donegal were making their substitutions at certain times to lift the tempo of the game, and in rugby you can see sometimes changes are made not when a player's form is dipping but to keep up standards.

"We should have made substitutions earlier, knowing fellas would tire in the conditions. We only put on four when we should have put on five.

"When you have a very competitive panel and everyone wants action, if you waste a substitution then there's one more guy going away from the squad disappointed he got no action.

"We're learning all the time as well – every match, every training session you try to soak stuff up. We're not the finished article.

"I said it to the lads the following week – nobody's perfect, everyone makes mistakes and there's an element of trust in the squad.

"They are training every night and there's no point trying to bluff them."

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