Fitzmaurice hails remarkable Dubs
By John Harrington
Former Kerry football manager, Eamonn Fitzmaurice, doesn’t think six-in-a-row All-Ireland champions Dublin have lost any of their edge.
And if any team is to finally dethrone them this year, they’ll have to improve significantly to close the gap rather than hope Dublin’s standards dip and they come back to the pack.
“I’m not seeing Dublin coming back to the pack,” he says. “To go and beat them you have to continually improve. Are they as strong as they once were, I am not sure. Whether they are improving year on year, I am not sure. But they are certainly not coming back, no.
“They are remarkable, they’re unbelievable. I’m not sure are there parallels in world sport of a team that keeps coming back with the same hunger to win where every game they go out every team is trying to shoot them down, so they deserve huge credit. But hopefully the day is getting nearer that they will have real hunger again because they’ll have to deal with a championship defeat.”
Fitzmaurice believes his own native county are as good as Dublin from numbers eight to 15, but admits there are still defensive frailties that are a cause for concern.
“The disappointment from a defensive perspective in the League would have been conceding the four goals against Dublin,” he says.
“When you’re conceding goals, there’s going to be question marks.
“Defence is always a team thing. When teams work hard from the front, they get plenty of bodies back and tend to then counter-attack at pace if they do turn over the ball. That’s probably the way the management will be looking at it, as a collective thing.
“Probably the biggest lesson they’ll be taking out of the league is the way Dublin scored those goals in Thurles. They’ll be looking at them and saying, ‘how can we improve?’ ‘How can you keep an eye on the man and keep an eye on the ball?’ I imagine they’re working on footwork, on collective defending, and communication. All those kinds of things. So it’s a work in progress at the back.
“The ultimate exam will probably be in an All-Ireland final, if they can get that far. Until you hold those Dublin forwards, you’re going to be a work in progress. It’s as simple as that.
“Until this Kerry team beats Dublin or wins an All-Ireland, there will be question marks. There will be question marks about the team and there will be question marks about the defence until they get that job done.
“If you can do that and if you can hold down the Dublin forwards, then you’re obviously in a good place.”