Eamonn Fitzmaurice: We'll be beaten by Kildare if we're not at our best
Kerry boss believes they'll be beaten by Lilies if they don't bring A-game
ÉAMONN Fitzmaurice insists he hadn't overlooked Kildare as a potential All-Ireland quarter-final opponent, despite the fact that he chose to travel to Breffni Park to watch Fermanagh and Westmeath rather than Thurles, to witness the Lilywhites beat Cork.
Team trainer Cian O'Neill and selector, Mikey Sheedy, were, in fact, in Semple Stadium to watch Kildare's nine-point win, one that set up Sunday's All-Ireland quarter-final against Kerry though Fitzmaurice admitted "it was seven hundred kilometres that could have been better utilised".
"We felt as Cian (a Kildare native) knows Kildare very well, and he would have worked with a lot of those lads when he was involved with the Kildare minors - one of the years he was involved with the Tipp hurlers," the Kerry boss explained.
"So he would know a lot of those players well, it was a 'no-brainer' for Cian to go to Thurles and Mikey went with him.
"Diarmuid and myself went for Cavan because the chances were two-to-one that the opposition could come out of the game in Cavan between Westmeath and Fermanagh."
Fitzmaurice, who has never needed prompting or, in some cases, material to espouse the qualities of looming Kerry opposition, nevertheless had plenty of both at his pre All-Ireland quarter-final press conference.
"They were a Division One team fifteen months ago," he pointed out, and while they've had two relegations since and had a lot of bad luck with injuries - Niall Kelly missed a lot of this season and we saw the way he played last Saturday evening.
"They have marquee forwards who can score, they are very strong at midfield, they have good backs, a good keeper who has very accurate kick-outs and can kick '45s.
"So I don't think there is any need for me to be talking them up, there will be a good realisation out there of the quality that they are going to bring whereas if you were playing maybe one of the so-called lesser teams, it might be harder to get the lads zoomed in on it.
"We really have to bring our A-game, and if we don't, we'll be beaten," Fitzmaurice continued.
"I've said it before - it's fairly black and white to me.
"If we play like we can play it will take a good team to beat us, but if we're off against a team like Kildare, this time next week we won't have to be worrying about any more press conferences."
The Kerry boss continued: "You'd have to be a fool after looking at that game last Saturday night if you were taking them for granted.
"It was their performance, the manner of their performance and how impressive they were," Fitzmaurice concluded with a warning.
"You couldn't but be impressed with the way they played last Saturday night."