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Cooper to miss out for Kerry as Fitzmaurice hits out at 'lack of respect' for Clare and Tipp

Johnny Buckley and Mikey Geaney also out for Kerry next Sunday.

Colm Cooper in action for Kerry against Clare in June.
Colm Cooper in action for Kerry against Clare in June.
Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

KERRY BOSS EAMONN Fitzmaurice has rejected suggestions that his team have a soft path towards an All-Ireland semi-final and insists such talk demonstrates a lack of respect towards Munster duo Clare and Tipperary.

Saturday’s action in Salthill and Cavan saw Clare and Tipperary book a berth in the All-Ireland quarter-finals for the first time.

Kerry saw off both counties en route to their 78th Munster senior crown earlier this month and will renew acquaintances with Clare in next Sunday’s quarter-final tie in Croke Park.

The Kingdom will be without Colm Cooper, Johnny Buckley and Mikey Geaney for the game due to injury but Peter Crowley has recovered after missing the Munster final. Cooper damaged his shoulder in the win over Tipperary, Geaney has picked up an ankle injury and Buckley hasn’t recovered in time from a knee problem.

The rematch between Kerry and Clare has been used to criticise the current senior football format.

“To be fair to both Clare and Tipperary, there was a huge lack of respect towards them. They were being dismissed because we beat them. It was very disrespectful.

“Both teams have gone on to show the quality they have. I was thinking about it this morning; of the teams that played in Division 1 this year, only two haven’t been beaten by a team from a lower division – ourselves and Dublin.

“The other six have all been beaten by teams in lower divisions. I think that shows the work that is going in counties, particularly in Clare and Tipperary, the progress they have made and the wins they have had.

Colm Collins and Eamonn Fitzmaurice shake hands after the game Eamonn Fitzmaurice shaking hands with Colm Collins after the Kerry-Clare clash in 2014 Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“There was a reaction after the weekend results that when it was confirmed that we were playing Clare, words like ‘farcical’ being used and that we were inside in an All-Ireland semi-final without having played the game.

“Again, I found that disrespectful to Clare, in particular. It is good for Munster. It is showing what we know ourselves because we come up against them.

“They scored 17 points against us in Killarney and created goal chances. We certainly respect them, but there is a general lack of respect out there for their achievements.

“I think they are playing with fierce energy and verve. Confidence too given they have three wins under their belt. If I didn’t stay it in the press conference after out Munster semi-final meeting, we were definitely commenting amongst ourselves afterwards that we thought Clare would be around for the summer.

“They have a lot of good footballers, they play attractive football, they are well coached and they have had a great run of it through the qualifiers.”

Eamonn Fitzmaurice Eamonn Fitzmaurice at yesterday's Kerry senior football press conference Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Fitzmaurice opted to attend the Derry-Tipperary game on Saturday as the Oak Leaf county had not featured on their radar in 2016.

“It was the second year in a row that Diarmuid (Murphy) and I went for Breffni Park.

“Look, with regard to playing Derry, it needed both results to go our way because if either Roscommon or Tipperary won, Roscommon couldn’t play Galway and we couldn’t play Tipperary.

“We have played Clare twice already this year. Derry were the unknown quantities really. I was anxious to see Derry in case they were the team we played.

“As it turned out, it is Clare. Mikey (Sheehy), Liam (Hassett) and Padraig (Corcoran) went to Salthill and we went to Breffni Park.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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