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Kerry still has lots to work on: Eamonn Fitzmaurice

By Declan Bogue

Eamonn Fitzmaurice is first in, and is asked if it feels like a win or a loss, given what transpired. "It feels like a draw," he deadpans. "We were lucky in the end, we know that. It was really a case of snatching a draw from the jaws of defeat.

"We showed great character late in the game to come back into it. But you'd question why we were in that position in the first place."

Mayo's resilience clearly impressed him as he continued: "They showed why they are such a great team as they keep coming back and back and why they've been so close to winning an All-Ireland the last few years.

"They really came after us with 14 men in the second-half.

"We sat off them, we sat back, which wasn't something we planned to do.

"We made it a lot harder for ourselves than we needed to do.

"We've things to be working on and plenty of areas to be improving on.

"If you'd asked me with five minutes to go, would I take a draw, I'd have snatched your hand off."

Sure he would, but he wouldn't have when they were five points and a man up, so Fitzmaurice tries to explain the subsequent sugar slump of the Kerry side from their high point.

"I think they got on top in the middle third," he said.

"Their runners started to get through us, Kevin McLoughlin went back to wing-back after the sending off and in particular to generate a kind of momentum."

They always had Kieran Donaghy to call upon though, who won three brilliant catches in dangerous positions at the end.

Expect to see that tactic more often in Limerick.

"We had it at the back of our heads that we'd be able to use him inside if we needed it, particularly late in the game, and we did need it," he added.

"He was fantastic when he went in there."

James Horan had to be asked if he thought they had it won.

"Yeah, and I thought we had it lost as well, when Bryan Sheehan lined it up there at the end. I think we should have won it," he answered. "We also could have lost it. So we'll take what we got."

His distaste for talk of 1951, and Mayo's last All-Ireland, was tested when he was informed that it took a replay to finally see off Kerry in the semi-final that year.

"I just haven't the energy to answer that," he said after rolling his eyes. "All I'd say on today, I couldn't be any prouder of the display, particularly in the second half.

"Five points down against Kerry at the start of the second half and a man down, to dominate the second half like we did is just brilliant."

Horan also confirmed that the Mayo county board will formally ask for the replay to be put back to September 6, and they will appeal against Lee Keegan's red card.

Belfast Telegraph

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