Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice with his squad in 2017 James Crombie/INPHO
Kingdom Leader

All-Ireland winner Fitzmaurice feels Kerry captain rule should change ahead of vote next Monday

Eamonn Fitzmaurice is hopeful that the tradition in Kerry will be changed.

KERRY ALL-IRELAND winner Eamonn Fitzmaurice has backed the calls for a change to their current system of letting the county champions nominate the senior captain of the Kingdom teams. 

A county board meeting next Monday in Kerry will debate a motion from the Beaufort club to change the method in place at present.

Fitzmaurice had first-hand experience of the captaincy issue as both a player and manager in Kerry with debate flaring up again after David Clifford was installed in the role last week.

“Yeah, it is time to change it, there’s no doubt about it. Coming from having been involved where the county champions (nominated), I think even by the end, and particularly the Dr Crokes club; they won so many county championships the kind of romanticism had kind of gone out of it for them by the end.

“For East Kerry this year it was obviously a huge thing because they haven’t had a Kerry captain for 20 years. I do think it’s time to change, and maybe two years ago they tried it but there wasn’t an appetite that time, but I think there is now. I’d hopeful it would be changed.”

Not that Fitzmaurice feels there will be an issue with Kerry’s leader for the 2020 campaign. He drafted the attacking sensation into his senior squad in 2018 when he was fresh out of the minor ranks, having toyed with introducing him the year previously.

“It was a no-brainer, yeah, he was ready. It was even something I kind of thought about between the two Mayo games in 2017. I felt at the time it would have been a panic manoeuvre but I think you could have, and I still think he would have done something but no, the minute he started training with us he was ready so it was a no-brainer.

david-clifford-kicks-a-point-to-level-the-game David Clifford fired over the point that drew the game for Kerry against Dublin last Saturday night. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“He’s (David Clifford) more than capable. I think the only factor against him is how young he is. But he’s into his third season, he’s a vocal presence in the dressing room, he will get plenty of support in the dressing room and will get plenty of support at home which would be important if he does hit a dip in form.

“His personality is very grounded, he is not going to get carried away and if anything it might inspire him a bit more. He is into his third season now, he has had two amazing seasons and it might give him a bit of an angle to keep trying to improve himself so I don’t see a downside to be honest.

“Sean O’Shea is another player on that team who is a big leader, he is only 21 now and he is 22 in July. He is into his fourth season; he has a lot of experience built up. My last year in charge would have been his second year and he was a member of a leadership group that year from that exact point of view that the younger generation did have a voice at the top table and he was very effective and very impressive in that leadership group. So leaders are born a lot of the time rather than created. I don’t think age should be a barrier to that.”

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

Fitzmaurice never felt during his playing days or his spell as manager that the captaincy issue was hampering Kerry’s ability to perform.

“It didn’t really because leaders within the group stand up anyway. Within Kerry, the captaincy is viewed as a ceremonial duty more than anything else.

“We’d natural leaders throughout my time in charge, the likes of Darragh and Seamus Moynihan were huge leaders for us, they didn’t need to be captain to kind of use their leadership skills or to bring us with them or for the rest of us to listen to them.”

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