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Moving on from Kerry job, Galvin's role with Wexford and the change in Dublin

Eamonn Fitzmaurice cannot see himself ever managing a county other than Kerry.

Former -Kerry football boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice.
Former -Kerry football boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

HE STEPPED DOWN in Killarney in early August 2018, moving on as Kerry were making their exit from the championship race.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice had put no shortage of time into the Kerry football project, six seasons as manager and serving as selector before then.

Moving away from the inter-county game hasn’t left a void, he’s content to have taken a step away from a position that makes relentless demands on those that fill it. 

The door is not slammed shut on the prospect of a possible return down the line but while former Kingdom comrades Jack O’Connor, Mike Quirke and Paul Galvin are all embarking on new roles with Leinster sides for the 2020 campaign, Fitzmaurice cannot envisage himself working with another county.

“No I wouldn’t manage any other county ever. The door isn’t completely closed (on Kerry) but at the moment I am very happy being out of it. We have two small kids at home I’m enjoying being able to spend time with them. My job is busy, there’s a steep learning curve in that so there are challenges there. The school teams are a great way of feeding the habit so to speak and working with lads that age.

“You’d never say never but at the moment I’m quite content with where I am and what I am doing. I was involved in it for a long time. I went straight from playing and into management with Jack to the U21s and then into the seniors and I was in with the school teams since I started teaching.

“It is good to step back and as I said I’m enjoying going to the games and supporting the lads as well. I’m not missing it to be honest. One thing I would like to do I would love to give my club a bit of a dig out.

“I think as a player I was lucky I retired relatively young from inter-county football and I got to go back and spend five or six very enjoyable years with my club when the body was still strong and able and I wasn’t going back patched up after a long county career. I really enjoyed that.

Having been immersed in the role for so long and operating with an elite outfit chasing All-Ireland honours, Fitzmaurice freely admits it became an obsession.

gaa-pdst-future-leaders-leagan-gaeilge-launch Eamonn Fitzmaurice was speaking at the GAA-PDST Future Leaders Leagan Gaeilge launch. Source: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

“I saw Paul O’Connell did an interview with RTÉ (on Wednesday night) and he was mentioning how intense he found the coaching in Stade Francais. He was spending the day of the game the Saturday and then the six hours at the video the next day and preparing the sessions and everything.

“I’d a little smile to myself and I was saying when you’ve a full-time job on top of that, particularly at this time of the year (with) the league. The championship is more manageable for a teacher especially but the league is very intense when you’re turning around from week to week.

“There’s a kind of a beautiful insanity about it but when you move out, you do realise there are aspects of it that are insane and probably need to be insane if you’re trying to be competitive.

“It becomes a complete obsession. It takes over your life and in a positive way. I think sometimes an obsession can be viewed as being negative.

“You are testing every aspect of yourself trying to improve and particularly when you have good days it is very rewarding and fulfilling. Obviously when you have the bad days it is very disappointing but overall a very positive experience.”

He was not taken aback by his brother-in-law Paul Galvin’s move into management with Wexford and will be watching with interest how the trio of Kerry natives fare.

“I suppose I have spoken to Paul a few times. I haven’t really spoken to Micheal Quirke and I met Jack once just bumped into him. Again I’m smiling away to myself a good bit. Again as part of that obsessive personality everyone wants to have a cut at it at some stage and see how they get on.

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paul-galvin New Wexford boss Paul Galvin Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

“I know Paul is really enjoying the Wexford experience at the moment and again there are plenty of challenges there but when you overcome these challenges it is very rewarding. He has come in when they are at a low base so he is going to try and change things and improve things. And like every new manager it will take ab it of time but I’d be confident he will definitely make progress.

“I wasn’t surprised at all he Is a deep thinker on the game and he has a lot of big ideas and good ideas. If he wasn’t getting involved with a senior inter-county team he would have gotten involved with a club team. He is that kind of personality he’d like to check himself out and see how he’d get on.When he was teaching in the Sem and in Chriost Ri, and when you are involved with school teams it gives you an appetite to go on and get involved with other teams so I wasn’t surprised really.”

There was another managerial change in the eastern province of significance over the winter. Fitzmaurice had a front-row view of what an imposing setup Jim Gavin cultivated with Dublin. Dessie Farrell has no easy task in replacing him.

“I think the job that Jim Gavin did was incredible. I think first of all as a coach and as a group of coaches, I think himself Declan Darcy and Jason Sherlock were at a serious level in terms of their coaching ability and I think the way he managed it then and he managed to keep them hungry and he managed to transition players in and out and he managed to keep them humble.

eamonn-fitzmaurice-and-jim-gavin Eamonn Fitzmaurice and Jim Gavin of Dublin after the 2017 football league final Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“You don’t manage the group of players with big personalities that that Dublin team has, it’s full of big personalities, in a positive way, and you don’t have that kind of success unless you have a serious strong personality yourself and unless you have a big of edge about you and are willing to fight your point if you have to. He had a good way of doing it that was understated but he could get his point across.

“You’d struggle to think of examples in any sport where a team have stayed so hungry and humble for so long so big shoes to fill. Dessie Farrell is obviously highly qualified for the job and he’ll bring his own style but he certainly has big shoes to fill.”

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Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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