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'It is time for me to move on': Eamonn Fitzmaurice confirms departure as Kerry manager

Fitzmaurice hopes his departure will remove some of the “negativity” around the Kerry team.

Kevin O’Brien reports from Killarney

EAMONN FITZMAURICE HAS confirmed his departure as Kerry manager in the wake of their exit from the All-Ireland SFC.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Kingdom enjoyed a comfortable 3-25 to 2-16 win over Kildare in the final Super 8s game in Killarney, but it wasn’t enough to see them progress out of the group after Monaghan’s victory over Galway in Salthill.

Fitzmaurice kept the Kerry team in the dressing rooms afterwards for a lengthy period and after emerging he announced his decision to end his six-year tenure in charge.

“I just had a chat with the players and I told them it is time for me to move on,” he said.

“I have been in the job for six years. I’ve given it everything I have. I think there are very good foundations there for the future. I think a change of voice and a change of direction will be good.”

Fitzmaurice led Kerry to an All-Ireland crown in 2014 and six Munster titles but said the increasing negativity around the team led to his decision to walk away.

“I also think by taking me out of the equation, it can remove some of the over the top negativity that was coming at the team, which I feel was unfair,” he continued. “When you are preaching patience about a young group, we didn’t carry through that as a county at all this summer.

“I think, part of that, was down to the fact that I was there for so long and that, maybe, I was a lightning rod for that negativity and criticism, which, if you are 19 as David (Clifford) is or Sean (O’Shea) that is 20, the other lads Gavin White is 21, Jason Foley is 21, that is not a nice environment to try and develop yourself.

Jack Barry reacts to a missed chance Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“It is great when we are in here in Fitzgerald Stadium together, but there is a lot of time when they are out on their own communities and out in the general public and they are hearing stuff.

“I’m hoping by someone new coming in, they’ll be given a bit of time and space, and I mean real time and real space and real patience to allow the (younger) lads make mistakes, allow bad performances to happen, without it being the end of the world, and appreciate how hard it is to develop a team.

“As a county, we have probably hung our hat too much on the minor success, which has been outstanding, but winning minor and All-Irelands and winning seniors All-Irelands are a very different thing. And it takes time. It was time.

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“You can take criticism, but over-the-top criticism, I get a lot of the info second and third hand because I stay out of it, you have enough to be doing when the games are coming thick and fast.

“But I think if you are being patient, there shouldn’t be over the top criticism when you have a young team. There has to be a realisation within the county that we need to give them a bit of space a bit of time. And, maybe, try the positive stance and see how that works, getting behind the team when you have a bad performance.

“There is no standing over our performance in Croke Park against Galway. None of us can still figure out where that came from and I wouldn’t even try to defend it. But going after that so aggressively doesn’t help young players. The older lads don’t really care. They’ve been there, they’ve done that but when you’re trying to develop young players it’s easier to do it in a positive environment.”

Gavin White leaves the field injured Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Finuge club man confirmed the negativity came from both the supporters and the media.

“It’s everyone, yeah. It’s everyone.

“I have a very specific example…No, I won’t go there. They get it in verbal form and written form. Players and management and selectors. I’ve a box full of anonymous letters.”

Fitzmaurice departs just a season into a three-year term he agreed with the county board last winter.

“Winning things is the answer there’s no doubt about that. I said it at the time, I think Tim Murphy, Kerry chairman) would have said it the same way. A three-year term is great but everything is always assessed and analysed and reviewed on a yearly basis. I don’t sign any contract, I’m not paid any money.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice and his daughter Faye after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“A three-year term is a verbal commitment really and it’s reviewed every year anyway. You sit down at the end of the year and look back. I’d have always asked myself, ‘Can I give it more? Can I make a difference? Can I improve it?’

“I think I’m at the point now where the group will benefit from a new voice and a bit of space. It’s grand me asking for space on the Bank Holiday weekend in August, if the new man loses three games next March will everyone be down his throat again? I’d hope not.

“If things are going against the next man there will be question marks but it’ll be more muted. It gets louder the longer you stay and I don’t like the way that was affecting the group.”

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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