VIDEO: Éamonn Fitzmaurice: ‘Kerry don’t influence referees’

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By Peter McNamara, Fitzgerald Stadium

Kerry supremo Éamonn Fitzmaurice dismissed suggestions his players influence referees after the Kingdom retained their Munster SFC crown in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney last night.

In the build-up to the contest, Irish Examiner columnist Conor McCarthy had said Kerry were artists of the ‘refereeing plámás’.

Citing players such as Kieran Donaghy and James O’Donoghue as examples, McCarthy wrote Kerry had an uncanny knack of cajoling officials when required in order to influence their decision-making.

Video by Eddie O’Hare

And, to be entirely honest, the statistics McCarthy rolled out in the piece certainly gave credence to his argument and got people thinking at the very least.

However, Fitzmaurice laughed off the suggestion Kerry try to impact on referees’ thinking.

“I don’t think we do (influence referees) more or less than any other team,” Fitzmaurice said, grinning. “Since I have taken over the team we try to be as disciplined as we can with the referee.

“I don’t think you see too many Kerry fellas going after the referees shouting at them or anything.

“Look, lads, to be fair, Maurice Deegan was reffing this evening, he’s an experienced ref, a top ref. The referees that are out there, they’re clever guys, they know how it works.

“They have their own tight circle and train and watch videos to try to improve themselves the whole time so our job any time we go out is to respect the referee and let him do his job.”

Kerry won 1-11 to 1-06 against Cork but the Leesiders were level, 0-9 to 1-6 – Paul Kerrigan rifling a stinging shot to Brendan Kealy’s net in the first-half for the visitors – until Paul Geaney’s second-half major enabled Fitzmaurice’s unit kick for home.

After Donnchadh Walsh’s initial shot was brilliantly saved by Ken O’Halloran the Dingle player must have thought Christmas came early – the weather conditions were certainly akin to a wicked December night – as the ball spun into his grasp.

At the edge of the small rectangle Geaney was calm in the eye of a storm and planted a shot into the top corner.

It was the 12th time in three games between the counties this season that an umpire has been reaching for the green flag and it was certainly the most important goal of all.

And when the ‘Championship 2015’ DVDs are being distributed by Santa Claus this year it is quite possible Geaney’s stroke of luck and subsequent craft could be reflected upon as a defining moment in the ‘summer’.

Geaney, though, alongside David Moran, was one of two of the most influential characters in the latest Kerry-Cork drama series episode. Fitzmaurice made the right call, as was illustrated pre-match in starting the corner-forward and agreed Geaney’s contributions were vital.

“Paul (Geaney) had a huge game, definitely. He was very unlucky to lose out the first day as Barry John (Keane) was to lose out tonight,” Fitzmaurice added.

“Barry John played really well in the drawn game, particularly in that period when we were on top coming up to half-time. Barry John also trained well in the meantime again so it was just one of those calls.

“We said we’d give Paul a go this time, he rewarded us and Barry John then gave us plenty of energy when he came on as well”.