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Donaghy and Walsh among veterans likely to follow Fitzmaurice out Kingdom exit door

Jack O’Connor, Peter Keane and Liam Kearns are among the candidates to replace outgoing boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

EAMONN FITZMAURICE RESIGNED as Kerry manager last night and there’s a feeling around the Kingdom that he’ll be joined in the departures lounge by a number of senior players.

At 35-years-old, Kieran Donaghy is unlikely to throw his lot in for another campaign, while Donnchadh Walsh is a year younger and also expected to announce his inter-county retirement over the winter.

Kildare largely snuffed out Donaghy’s threat at full-forward and the Austin Stacks man was withdrawn at half-time. Walsh only made one appearance all year – as a second-half substitute against Galway – and failed to make the matchday 26 against Kildare.

Of the rest, Darran O’Sullivan (32) arrived off the bench in the 57th minute for his fourth substitute appearance of the summer and he may opt to call it a day. Another retiree may be Anthony Maher, who is only 31 but has struggled with hip problems over the past couple of years.

Killian Young is also 31-years-old and is another player who could potentially walk away with a number of youngsters vying for places in the back line.

Fans applaud as Kieran Donaghy leaves the field Fans applaud as Kieran Donaghy leaves the field Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Despite their exit at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage, Kerry football is in rude health with four All-Ireland minor winning sides in-a-row coming through. Fitzmaurice took charge of Kerry in 2013, the same year as Jim Gavin in Dublin and their careers have taken vastly different paths.

The Finuge native delivered the Sam Maguire unexpectedly in his second year in charge in 2014 and brought Kerry back to the final a year later where they lost to Dublin. They went unbeaten in Munster during his six-year stint, winning six provincial crowns.

Speaking with the media after confirming his departure, Fitzmaurice listed the 2014 success, the 2015 All-Ireland semi-final win over Tyrone and the 2017 league title win over Dublin as his personal highlights of his reign.

His exit leaves Gavin as the second longest serving manager in inter-county football after Tyrone boss Mickey Harte.

Jack O'Connor Kerry U20s manager Jack O'Connor Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

U20 boss Jack O’Connor is likely to be among the frontrunners to replace Fitzmaurice. O’Connor worked with a number of the young members of the current Kingdom squad during his recent spell as minor boss where he led them to two All-Irelands at the grade.

The Dromid Pearses man previously managed Kerry for two spells, between 2003 – 2006 and 2008 – 2012.

Another option is current minor boss Peter Keane, who led Kerry to their last two minor All-Irelands. Current Tipperary boss Liam Kearns is also likely to be heavily linked to the role.

-A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Jack O’Connor’s club

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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