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Fitzmaurice praises keeper for moment of Kerry gold

By Declan Bogue

Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice hailed the shot-stopping of his goalkeeper Brendan Kealy as he kept out a Mark Bradley effort that might have wrestled the All-Ireland semi-final back in favour towards Tyrone at Croke Park yesterday.

"It was a huge moment in the game and it was an excellent save, I saw it on the big screen," the Finuge man said.

Fitzmaurice was speaking after the win which leaves the defending champions in the final against the winners of next weekend's other semi-final between Dublin and Mayo.

"It wasn't a case of it was kicked off him," he added.

"He got a hand to it, it was a great save, but then again that is one of Brendan's biggest strengths.

"Thankfully, we kept it out. If he got the goal who knows, the momentum might have swung with him then, but when you get a great save like that it lifts everybody. Thankfully, Brendan did his job."

As someone who had suffered at the hands of the northern opposition as a player, he downplayed the significance of Kerry beating Tyrone in Croke Park for the first time in 29 years.

"I don't think it's hugely significant. The significance is that we're into an All-Ireland final, where we want to be," he said.

"Unless we can finish off the job back here in four weeks' time, it's not something we're going to look back on with any sort of fond memories.

"If we can back it up now and finish it off in four weeks, then of course during the winter time we might have a think and say, 'yeah it was good to beat Tyrone in Croke Park,' but we'll be thinking of four weeks' time now straight away."

Fitzmaurice noted that Tyrone's style of play and direct running had the champions in plenty of bother, especially considering the number of goal-scoring opportunities they passed up on.

"You would, of course," he answered when asked if Tyrone's ability to slice through the Kerry defence had caused grounds for concern.

"They did create goal chances. We gave away the penalty, it's something we're going to have a look at.

"Sometimes you can put the emphasis too much on ourselves, you've to give Tyrone credit as well.

"We were playing a serious running team in an All-Ireland semi-final and that's their biggest strength when they come at you in serious numbers through the middle.

"When you're open they can create those goal chances so of course it's something we have to look at but it's great that we're there and we're looking at over the next couple of weeks and not looking at next February or something."

The manner of the win and how it was achieved, in grinding out a win in tough circumstances, was pleasing for Fitzmaurice.

"It's great, I just think it's a reminder for the lads again," he said.

But we've been down this road before, we had to grind in the Munster final, the drawn game in particular where we didn't hit the high notes, Cork had a lot of momentum and we just stuck together."

"There is a great attitude in the group with regards whatever is happening we'll keep trying to do the right things and keep trying to get the result."

The Kerry manager admits that the final will throw up a different set of problems when they return on September 20.

"It is going to be a completely different challenge, regardless of who comes through next weekend," he said.

"The three teams that are left in this year's championship really would prefer to play a certain brand of football and that will present its own challenges

"But then that's a great problem to have and a great thing to be preparing for," Fitzmaurice concluded.

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