Kerry v Mayo - GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final Replay

26 August 2017; Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final Replay match between Kerry and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Kerry manager Fitzmaurice says Mayo were hungrier


By John Harrington

Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice admitted his team lost to a better and hungrier Mayo in today’s All-Ireland SFC semi-final.

And he believes Mayo could summon a greater fire in their belly because of all the All-Ireland Final heartache they’ve endured in recent years.

“What went wrong? Mayo were better, Mayo were hungrier and they just performed better than us,” said Fitzmaurice.

“In fairness, they have ferocious appetite because of the disappointments they have had over the last couple of years and because of how close they were.

“We have had similar disappointments, last year in particular in the semi-final but when you are going back so long since they’ve won and they’ve been so close I think they edged us in those stakes.

“That’s not something you can predict, that’s just there on the day and I think it was evident there today.”

Kerry surprisingly set up with Paul Murphy as an out and out sweeper, a tactic which simply didn’t work well.

When it was put to Fitzmaurice that elements of the Kerry game-plan had malfunctioned, he agreed they had.

“I would, I don’t think it worked as well as we had hoped but again I think you’d have to give big credit to Mayo for that,” said Fitzmaurice.

“I think they were just operating at a slightly higher level than us. I think the kickouts in the first half were a big factor – they got on top of our kickout and won all of their own kickouts, so they had a lot of possession.

“We were playing a bit of catch up. Any day you lose a game there are aspects of your game-plan that are going to malfunction and aren’t going to go according to play.

“I’m sure people will be wondering what the hell were we trying to do, but the days it goes well then you end up winning the game and you look like a genius.”

Fitzmaurice was clearly hurting after the loss, but graciously made a point of praising Mayo for just how good they were on the day.

“They’ve been outstanding,” he said. “We didn’t need the last two games to confirm they are a serious outfit.

“They have been so close, going back to 2012 in particular, they’ve been so close every year. We knew we were going to have to be on top of our game to win the game and we weren’t, so it’s no huge surprise that they beat us.

“I think they are a great bunch, serious resilience and they are no mean footballers either.”