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Fitzmaurice expecting nothing but the best version of Galway

Kerry have 52 years of history on their side going in to this weekend’s SFC quarter-final.

KERRY BOSS EAMON Fitzmaurice is ready to see the best side of a Jekyll and Hyde Galway outfit looking for their first win over the Kingdom in 52 years when they meet in Sunday’s All-Ireland SFC quarter-final.

Galway’s 1965 All-Ireland victory stands as their last Championship win over Kerry. A draw in the 2000 final is the closest they have come in six attempts since.

Padraig Joyce and Darragh O'Se Padraic Joyce veers clear of Darragh O'Se in the drawn game in 2000. Source: Andrew Paton/INPHO

A stunning four-goal win over Donegal on Saturday has pumped renewed hope into the Tribe, but following after the Connacht final loss to Roscommon, there is more than a hint of inconsistency from the westerners.

One area of that defeat which came in for criticism was their resistance to long kick-outs in favour of short balls which served only to invite pressure. Fitzmaurice though, can certainly see the artillery in Galway to easily change it up.

“I think for a while, the last two or three seasons, teams were conceding kick-outs and it was easy then just to chip it out and try to bring it up the field.

“As teams have got more aggressive and pushed up more and made it harder for that short kick-out to be effective, teams have started to go long again. And a lot of teams that go long, if you look at Galway, they have the personnel to go long.

They had Tomás Flynn and Paul Conroy out there the last day. O Curraoin wasn’t playing; he’s a big man, good in the air as well… I imagine he’ll be back in the mix for next weekend.”

“Of course you would look at (the Roscommon match) but I don’t think that’s a true reflection of Galway. I think you’d be looking more at some of their league games, and the Mayo game, the Donegal game. I think that’s probably a truer reflection of where they are at.”

Fitzmaurice, who counts Bryan Sheehan as a major doubt for his own side after a recurrence of a hamstring injury, refers to Galway’s loss to Roscommon as a blip and insisted he wasn’t the least bit surprised by the Tribe’s destruction of Donegal.

“It was a huge performance. It wasn’t one they just ground out. You could noticeably see that they worked much harder than the Connacht final.

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Eamonn Fitzmaurice Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“They were obviously disappointed with themselves and their own level of work-rate, I would say, in that Connacht final. It was something they focused on.

“When they worked hard then, they have the natural forwards to really punish teams, so when you put the two of those elements together, they are a very strong team.”

“They are strong and mobile in the middle. I think under Kevin Walsh as well they have definitely identified the need to be stronger at the back. They are good at getting bodies back, they have a strong structure, they are excellent counter-attacking; they have a lot of pace in the team.”

History however, remains on Kerry’s side as they head to Croke Park.

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