Derry must find last year’s form against the Kingdom says Fitzmaurice

By Michael McMullan

ÉAMONN Fitzmaurice feels Derry must get back to the levels of last season when they take on the Kingdom on Sunday.

A guest on this week’s Gaelic Lives preview show, the former Kerry player and manager looks ahead to all four All-Ireland quarter finals.

Fitzmaurice also weighs up Derry losing against top quality opposition versus Kerry not being tested in their championship season to date.

“I do think that some of the Derry players were playing close to or at the top of their game this time last year and they’re not there yet this year,” he said.

While Derry turned the corner with a performance that eventually knocked Mayo out last weekend, Fitzmaurice feels their levels, even in the first half, don’t match last season.

“It was excellent last Saturday evening but if you compare the first half of that with their first half performance of that All-Ireland semi-final last year, I think that was their real peak performance.

“They showed everything that they’re about. So, I think for them to win, they’ll have to get back to that level again and if they can get back to that level, considering how battle-hardened they are, they’re in with a huge shout.”

Fitzmaurice also referenced Derry’s 0-15 to 2-8 league in his native county in Tralee.

Derry were almost at full strength against a Kerry team shy of seven players lively to flicker in Jack O’Connor’s thoughts this weekend.

“It’s not that,” Fitzmaurice said about the difference in personnel. “It’s just getting the win, it’s beating Kerry. So I think the belief is there, I don’t think the belief is a problem for them.

“I think their form has been the problem. If they can continue (the performance in Castlebar) and bring as much again this weekend, it’ll take Kerry’s best to beat them.”

• Check out our Gaelic Lives All-Ireland SFC quarter-final preview show with Éamonn Fitzmaurice on  Spotify. Link below.

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