Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice appealed to his Golden Oldies not to rush into retirement on the back of Sunday’s defeat to Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Tomas O Se, Paul Galvin, Declan O’Sullivan and Colm Cooper are all in their thirties, and Kerry fans fear some of them could now quit inter-county football.
Fitzmaurice believes it would be wrong for any player to reach a hasty decision on his future in the aftermath of a classic game of football.
He said, “I don’t think today is the day to be making decisions. The lads should reflect. When I took this job I said I didn’t think any of them had to retire purely based on the fact that their body was gone over the hill or that they felt they couldn’t contribute.
“Now, whether fellas into their mid-thirties can give the necessary sacrifices that they gave this year, that’s a personal decision for them. Particularly the fellas with young families.
“It’s a very demanding schedule that the lads have. So that’s a decision they’ll have to make in their own time and we’ll give them the time and space to do it.
“But I think it’s been probably been exaggerated. Tomas is 35, fair enough, Paul is 34 at the end of the year.
“Other than that the rest of them, like...Colm, Declan and Kieran Donaghy are only 30, like. I know they have a lot of football played but at the same time they’re not old.
“They’re not old men in the way they preserve themselves and train and look after themselves now. I don’t think longevity is as much of an issue as it would have been in the past.
“Of course there are going to be changes next year. There will be, it’s as simple as that.”
The Kerry boss paid tribute to his team after they ran Dublin close for all but the final few minutes of Sunday’s epic semifinal.
He added, “I’ve been saying all year, we have a lot of faith in those young lads. They have been training all year and I have no doubts they would deliver for us this year.
“You can’t put that into a fella in terms of training or workshops, you have to experience that as a player, in terms of playing in Croke Park with a full house in a really intense, fast game.
“Of course it will stand to the lads in terms of their development, but we would prefer to have a final to be preparing for in three weeks time, that would help them at all.”
And Fitzmaurice did see room for improvement next season when Kerry will look to rebuild after the Dublin defeat.
He continued, “I don’t think we played as well as we could have. When I look back on it we had a lot of turnovers in the first half in particular where we had the wrong kick-pass and got turned over in possession.
“Dublin punished us severely on those. They got a lot of scores off them. I don’t know what the stat is, I’d have to see the game over again.
“Look, in every game you’re going to make mistakes. In terms of effort I couldn’t have asked more of the lads today and I couldn’t have asked more off them all year. They’ve been unbelievable with their application.
“Every single thing we’ve asked of them they’ve done. I couldn’t have asked any more out of the lads but it just wasn’t good enough today.
“In fairness to Dublin, every time we got a goal they responded and kept themselves in the game so we never really went out of sight. Nor did we expect to.
“It came down to the last five minutes and they got the important scores in that period.”
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After living in Ireland for almost one year, this is what I’ve learned