Saturday 18 November 2017

Martin Breheny: Eamonn Fitzmaurice looks to Croke Park while Peadar Healy looks to drawing board

Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice. Photo: Sportsfile
Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

A tale of two managers. Eamonn Fitzmaurice talked from a position of real strength as Kerry banked a fifth successive Munster title while Peadar Healy spoke about Cork needing to 'do a lot of soul-searching' and 'going back to the drawing board'.

But first, there were no excuses from Cork. Facts had to be faced and he was prepared to do that.

"We're disappointed with the performance. It's a tough dressing-room down there at the moment. We're hurting. That's understandable. No excuses, Kerry well deserved their win," he said. However, he did have some regrets, not least Cork's missed opportunities.

" We had five or six goal chances. Don't get me wrong, they (Kerry) had them as well. You've got to take your goal chances against Kerry. Especially as we're not a high-scoring team. We're looking to get 16 scores plus - two or three of them have to be goals," said Healy.

But then it's a problem which has bugged them all year.

"We missed 19 goal chances in the league," he said.

Kerry scored only one goal yesterday but popped points with the utmost ease. Indeed, they had scored 16 by the time they shot their first wide in the 42nd minute. It made pleasant viewing for Fitzmaurice but he was already weighing up the game in the context of the work they had to do before taking their All-Ireland challenge to Croke Park,

"We're delighted to have won and to be heading to Croke Park as Munster champions. We won well but at the same time, we have plenty to work on," he said.

Like what exactly?

"We didn't close out the game great after Fionn's injury. The edge seemed to go out of it after that stoppage. There are other aspects we need to look at too. We played a lot of good football but we missed a few goal chances," he said.

A head injury sustained by Fionn Fitzgerald early in the second half led to a lengthy stoppage before he was removed from the pitch.

"He got a heavy bang. Initially, there were fears for his jaw but I'd say he's just concussed. He was bleeding from the nose as well. I think it was one of our own fellas he collided with. Thankfully, he's back to himself but we'll have to look after him for the next few weeks," said Fitzmaurice.

Healy has extensive psychological repair work ahead of him after a game where Cork often looked like lost souls. Two years ago, they came within seconds of beating Kerry in the Munster final in Killarney but it was clear from very early on yesterday that damage limitation was the best they could hope for.


Unfortunately for them, even that proved out of reach. "We are where we are. We've to knuckle down and get on with it," he said.

Whether the squad can relaunch themselves mentally for a qualifier tie against opposition coming off a winning run remains to be seen but, on the evidence of how Cork's year has gone so far, there won't be much optimism among their supporters.

The mood is very different in Kerry where competition for places is so intense that Fitzmaurice and his selectors are spoilt for choice when they sit down to pick a team.

Even the decision to restore Kieran Donaghy to the starting 15 worked well as he showed he is as driven as ever. So what prompted his recall?

"Training form," replied Fitzmaurice.

Irish Independent

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