Fitzmaurice says Kerry must stop conceding goal chances
Despite giving Galway too many chances, Kingdom won in second gear
Apocryphal or not, the old Kerry press-night s t aple of put-me-down-for-what-I-said-last-year could feasibly have got a run out here. Eamonn Fitzmaurice has brought his Kerry teams up the road for five All-Ireland quarter-finals in a row and won them all without ever having a moment’s panic. They weren’t at full throttle. They never had to be. Onwards.
“Any day you win an All-Ireland quarter-final by eight points and you’re still in the championship and going into a semi-final, you have to be happy,” Fitzmaurice said. “There were aspects of our performance, patches where we didn’t play well and periods as well when we were very sloppy. Overall, look, it’s job done. If you had asked me this morning would I have taken an eight-point win, I’d have said absolutely. It’s a case of onwards and upwards now, and we’ll look to improve over the next three weeks.”
Galway left with regrets, having made a hash of plenty of goal chances. A better team won’t be so helpful to Kerry’s cause in three weeks. Brian Kelly made a couple of fine saves in the Kerry goal, and Fitzmaurice won’t want him to have to have such a good game next time out.
“Yeah, it’s something to work on obviously. It’s something we have worked on and something we have to do more work on. But again, with all these things, you have to give credit to the opposition. We saw what Galway could do last weekend. We saw what they were able to do against Mayo in the Connacht championship as well.
“We were well-warned about their attacking threat. There was a couple of close ones, but there was good defending, too, and Brian obviously did very well in goals. I think you have to give credit to Galway there. They were always going to bring that threat. But again, plenty for us to work on.”
Kevin Walsh didn’t want to reach for the missed goals as the excuse here. Without admitting as much, he must have known they weren’t the rea- son for Galway’s defeat. Kerry won in second gear and nobody in the ground doubted that they’d have found higher ones if needed. The misses were a talking point, nothing more.
“I will have to see them again,” Walsh said. “I didn’t have the bird’s-eye view that you had, but we certainly got in there and got a few chances. Goals create momentum, and that showed against Donegal, when we took our chances. If we got one or two of them today, it would have allowed us to ask the question to see where we were but it wasn’t to be.
“And conceding the goal so early in the first half left us on the back-foot against a team as experienced as Kerry, which is a place we did not want to be. Goals often give momentum to a team and we simply did not get them.
“We probably would have liked to get bodies back a little bit quicker to help the full-back [against Kieran Donaghy]. It’s a huge pitch. Some of these guys don’t even know the pitch. That’s the big difference with the likes of Kerry and Dublin compared to a young Galway side coming in. At the same time, it wasn’t all about that. I think we had our own goal chances and if we’d taken one or two of them, who knows?”
Immaterial now, of course. Galway’s year ends at the same point as last year, out in the quarter-final without landing a blow. Hard to know yet whether that represents an improvement or not. You suspect not.
“Well, there’s a full stop for every team at some point, apart from the All-Ireland champions,” Walsh said. “There’s always going to be someone feeling this pain, bar the winners, at some point. If we look back on our season, promotion was high on our list. We achieved that. And getting our first win – albeit not a Championship win – at Croke Park was important as well for Galway people.
“So those two were achieved. We probably would have liked to retain the Connacht title, didn’t do that, but along the way, proving that it was no fluke the year before, it was important that we performed against Mayo as well. Coming into the last eight in the route we probably didn’t want to come brought up the heavyweight champions. Our goal would have been to certainly try and get to the last four this year, maybe wanting to avoid the top two along the way.”
Kerry’s Paul Murphy comes under pressure from Galway’s Eoghan Kerin at Croke Park yesterday.