Tuesday 23 January 2018

Rebels possess the firepower to hurt us, warns Fitzmaurice

Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice
Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice has warned of the firepower Cork will bring to Killarney in Sunday's Munster SFC final.

The Rebels hit an impressive 3-17 when the sides met in the league in Páirc Uí Rinn in early March and that openness was something, Fitzmaurice admits, the Kingdom struggled with throughout the league.

And the Kerry boss believes his team will have to improve defensively from their win over Tipperary to see off Cork.

"It's something we've been looking at all year, to be honest, because we definitely conceded the biggest score in Division One," said Fitzmaurice.

"I'm not sure it could have been the biggest score across all four divisions during the league (and we conceded heavily) against Cork in Páirc Uí Rinn that day.

"Against Tipperary we conceded two goals in particular that we wouldn't have been overly happy with. And I imagine Tipperary themselves would have been disappointed with some of their shooting in the second half.

"So it is an area that we're always working on and that we've had to work on since the Tipp game. The Cork forwards are going to be a step-up again. If they line out similar to the way they lined out the last day, they've a lot of different scoring threats."

In that league meeting, Cork's inside duo of Colm O'Neill and Brian Hurley hit 1-8 between them but Fitzmaurice feels they carry a broader attacking menace than just those two.

"If you look at their forwards the last day (against Clare), they had Colm O'Driscoll, who's very effective in his role. They had Mark Collins, who was one of the best players nationally in the whole league.

"Paul Kerrigan, when he's on, he's like Darran (O'Sullivan) a similar type of player. He can get goals, scores, he can cause a lot of hassle," he observed.

"Inside then they have Colm O'Neill, Brian Hurley and Donncha O'Connor, who's playing fantastic football. Obviously the two lads, Colm O'Neill and Brian Hurley, are kind of their marquee forwards.

"Colm O'Driscoll tends to play out around the middle and works very hard for the team but any one of the other five are big scoring threats and we know that. So I don't think it's a case of you block out two and you're safe. We have to be very tight on all of them."

Fitzmaurice also denied any allegation that his side contained a cynical streak but admitted there was a "perception" that they were "pushing boundaries".

"There is a perception out there maybe that we were pushing boundaries. I don't think we are," he reflected. "We wouldn't have conceded the biggest score in the league if that was the case. To be honest, it's not something I'm losing sleep over; it comes with the territory of being champions.


"Last year, we were under the radar, there was very little focus on us. Dublin last year were the team for being picked on for different reasons and that comes with the territory.

"It's not a factor, it's not going to affect us. There are some very good referees out there, they know the story.

"They're refereeing all of the big games in the National League, they're watching the games on TV, they do their own coaching conferences and video analysis the way we do video analysis.

"They know what's going on, they know what teams are at what. I'm sure if we are doing things outside the rules or if we are pushing the boundaries too far we'll be found out. We had no red card in the league," he added.

It's a full 20 years since Cork stormed Killarney. They have pushed hard on occasion but never quite managed to get over the line since 1995.

For Fitzmaurice, that will be of little significance this weekend. "It's not something we can use for motivational purposes," Fitzmaurice offered. Over those 20 years and certainly when I was playing, there was a couple of days when we were very lucky to maintain that record.

"There were days when Cork had us beaten and we barely got out of dodge. Of course it's a record you want to preserve but this is an independent fixture and we're just focusing on the game."

Irish Independent

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