Monday 11 December 2017

What? Not one Yerra to be heard

Cautious Kerry camp ‘keep it tight’, and refuse to let mask slip

Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Mick Fitzsimons and Jack McCaffrey celebrate Dublin’s All-Ireland semi-final victory over Mayo last Saturday.
Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice

The Kerry pre All-Ireland final press night is one of those occasions storied mostly by people who have never attended one.

The mythologised version goes something like this.

Men with arse pockets so rammed with All-Ireland SFC medals as to make them indistinguishable from behind from a Kardashian, wink and nudge and shrug for a half hour about the ferocious test they'll encounter in a couple of weeks time.

"Keep it tight, lads. Don't be letting anything slip," as Darragh Ó Sé admitted the Kerry mantra to be in his column about the charade earlier this year.


Then they go up to Croker and sicken the Dubs or whatever other poor bunch of saps have spent the preceding fortnight having their backs warmed by the tropical glow of compliments disingenuously spoken out of the side of the Kerry poor mouths.

Last Monday's was a more modern version of the genre.

The Brehon Hotel in Killarney. Selected players saying pre-prepared and inoffensive things to invited media. And all within a strict time limit.

The Yerra Defence was replaced, appropriately given the back-to-back precipice on which Kerry linger, by the All-Ireland defence.

Revenge for 2011 and 2013 an issue? No. An All-Ireland is all that counts.

Back-to-back Sam Maguires a big factor?

No. This year's All-Ireland is all that counts.

Taking Cork, Tyrone and Dublin out in the one season would be sweet, eh?

Nope. An All-Ireland…

Otherwise, it was a perfectly efficient and polite affair.

Gooch, Donaghy, éamonn Fitzmaurice, Marc Ó Sé all queued up and moved along the camera crews from five different television channels lined up and got their 15 minutes with each representative of the Kerry squad, to be condensed, in many cases into about two minutes of used footage around All-Ireland final weekend.

Then, the papers.

Big room. Lots of seats. And a long wooden desk, behind which sits Fitzmaurice.

The Kerry manager is a relaxed enough character.

He doesn't bear the pressures of the media job like the late, great Paidí Ó Sé used. He doesn't harbour the same twitchy paranoia about the gig generally as Jack O'Connor.

Humour is a rare visitor on these occasions but Jim Gavin's post Mayo quote about Kerry ("we haven't seen much of them") extends an invitation when it's put to Fitzmaurice.


Arms folded, he tries initially to suppress his smile but relents, stopping short of full hearty laughter.

"We'll have to take Jim at his word if that's what he said."

It is announced that Fitzmaurice will read out an injury update.

The update is that there is no update. Those who were expected to be out of the All-Ireland final are out of the All-Ireland final.

From there, we proceed.

Very impressed with Dublin. Better for having been through replay. Sure, don't we know that ourselves from last year?

Naturally for a county as famed for its orators as footballers, there exists a strong local media representation.

Often-times, their questions are distinct in both structure and tone in that they contain nuggets of information irrelevant to the eventual query as well as a more anxious premise.

What would you be concerned about…?


"I would. I'd be very concerned."

What about Kevin McManamon? Would you have a plan to mark him when he comes on?

"We would."

Fitzmaurice gets his point across though. As do the players in neat 15-minute rotations.

Dublin have changed, evolved and improve since Donegal last year. We're not getting too hung up to the rivalry aspect, is the general message from the Kingdom.

Pressure is on us every year, regardless of being defending champions, underline the green and gold.

With that, the players went away, not to be seen in public again until September 20 in Croke Park and we turned for home, dictaphones full if not entirely satisfied.

And nobody - not even once - said 'yerra'!

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