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Saturday 3 December 2016

Eamonn Fitzmaurice: Kerry have no problems with discipline

Eamonn Fitzmaurice
Eamonn Fitzmaurice

ALMOST always (with the obvious and predictable exception of the Ulster SFC), it's when you predict a fractured, spiteful football match that the opposite transpires.

So it was that when we expected physical fireworks in the Dublin v Mayo replay, we got a clean and slick game of football.

"Our lads will be making sure we're as disciplined as possible, that we're not conceding frees and not getting distracted by other things that are going on on the pitch," says Eamonn Fitzmaurice, mindful of the perception that there exists some very real antipathy between the All-Ireland finalists on Sunday, as demonstrated most recently and vividly in the league game between the pair in March.

"That we're focused on what we should be focused on and to be fair the lads have been excellent discipline-wise this year," he adds.

"I don't think we had any straight red cards this year.

"Our discipline has been good in the championship and will have to be the next day.

"Looking at Dublin and the difference between the draw and the replay, they will want to continue that discipline into the final."

Fitzmaurice also admitted that he was hoping for a winner on the day Dublin and Mayo drew.

He has not, predictably, divulged which team he actually wanted to win.

parade

But having made public his belief that any Kerry All-Ireland retention bid would have to go through Dublin at some stage in the process, that might give a clue as to which he expected to be lining up against his team this Sunday in the pre-final parade.

"The first day we were hoping to have a result to inform our own training and know who we were playing," the Kerry manager stated.

"It wasn't to be and there was always a good chance there would have been a draw because the teams were evenly matched. It was what it was and we just had to accept it and move on."

Being a Kerry manager Fitzmaurice was always likely to espouse the benefits of the opposition's path to the final but having gone the semi-final replay route themselves last year, he's also well placed to do so.

"I think they'll be delighted with the two games from the point of view that they coasted through Leinster, did what they had to do and were professional," he pointed out.

"Again similarly with the Fermanagh game, did what they had to do without really having to go up the gears. But I think they got a serious gut check, particularly the second day.

"The first day they played a lot of the football and probably are disappointed they didn't finish it out a bit better.

"With 20 minutes to go (in the replay), they had to really up the ante and I think they did so they were impressive, I was impressed with them."

As for his own team's route, Fitzmaurice admitted: "It was satisfying, the Tyrone game, from that point of view.

character

"You'd wonder how we got in that position in the first place when we were in a position where we were very comfortable.

"In fairness to the lads they did show great experience and character and led it themselves out on the pitch to get the four points after half-time.

"It was satisfying but as I said at the time, semi-finals are about winning and getting over, and improve and get as close to your best as you can for All-Ireland final day."

Kerry

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