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Kerry star Eamonn Fitzmaurice takes All-Ireland defeat on chin

By Declan Bogue

There is something incredibly humble about Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice.

While Darragh OSe once shared a brilliant yarn about how Fitzmaurice prefers to be on the weaker side during their weekly indoor soccer nights during the winter, to overcome the hardship, we know he really loves winning against the odds.

Yet that will to win wasn't matched by his players. Perhaps it was the month lay-off. Certainly, Dublin had their blade sharper.

There were excuses there, but Fitzmaurice wasn't in the market for them.

"You have to give a lot of credit for Dublin. They played it in such a way that you get the best of both worlds, they were getting a man back, Bastick was getting a man back to help Cian O'Sullivan, Cian was able to drop back in front of our full-forward line," he began in that forensic, 'here's-how-the-game-panned-out' way of his.

"And at the same time they were slowing down as well because of how hard their forwards were working so I think you have to give them a lot of credit, I think when we look back on it we will accept that we did function as well as we can up front, we took the wrong options, at times we didn't execute as well as we can, that can happen."

He is thrown another lifeline, the one that represents a legitimate claim that they were victimised when Kieran Donaghy deserved a penalty. Maybe even two. But he doesn't grab it.

"Apparently so," he said. "But I haven't seen it yet. I'll have to wait and see."

The clearest example of how the tables were turned came down to the spectacle of Colm Cooper trying in vain to defend against a rampaging Philly McMahon.

Fitzmaurice maintains it was Dublin's greater share of the possession that created this scenario.

"I think that was down to Dublin having the ball and us turning over ball. If we were in possession and if we had the ball and were getting Colm on the ball where we wanted him to be on the ball and getting Philly McMahon defending him we'd have been playing the game on our terms," the Finuge man commented.

"But for a lot of the first half we had to play on Dublin's terms and Colm just ended up chasing Philly McMahon a lot. It was an obvious tactic, he's done it in the other games and he's very good at it. It was effective. It was about having your hands on the ball. We didn't have our hands on enough ball today."

You have to wonder about the future of players such as Paul Galvin (35), Aidan O'Mahony (35), Marc OSe (35) and even Colm Cooper and Kieran Donaghy, both of whom are now 32.

"I think all of them can continue," was Fitzmaurice's take. "Physically there's no reason that they can't continue. They're all in tremendous shape. It's whether, with regard to where they're at in their lives and lifestyles, if they're willing to make the sacrifices and if that hunger is there.

Kerry secured their second All-Ireland minor title in a row with a 4-14 to 0-6 win over Tipperary.

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