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'It Was Emotional When He Announced His Decision In The Dressing Room'

'It Was Emotional When He Announced His Decision In The Dressing Room'
By PJ Browne

"It was kind of surreal after the Kildare game where we played well, particularly in the second half, knowing we were out," said Stephen O'Brien.

The Kerry forward was thinking back to August and the day his side beat Kildare but exited the championship after the other fixture in the Super 8 group didn't go their way.

Kerry needed Galway to beat Monaghan but the Ulster side won handily to secure a place in the All-Ireland semi-finals.

Later that evening, Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice announced his resignation after six years in charge of the Kingdom. Looking back now, O'Brien says that the Kerry panel could see it coming.

It was emotional when he announced his decision in the dressing room after the Kildare game.

I suppose if you step back and look at the signs you probably did, but you're just trying to look after your own boat. You're just trying to get ready for the games.

Possibly, yeah, it wasn't a complete shock. At the end of the day, the last two years didn't finish well. I don't think through any fault of Eamonn, but at the end of the day it comes down to the manager. The buck stops with him.

"He was a huge part of my career," continued O'Brien

"When he came in in 2012 he revolutionized the whole set up. I was sad to see him go. I had the utmost respect for the man.

"The man is class personified. He's just a quality man really. He had a big impact on my life, outside of football even as well. He's a role model or a kind of father figure, that's how I would see him.

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"I used him as a work reference for a CV, things like that. He'd be handy that way. It meant a lot coming from him.

"It's obviously emotional when he was such a huge part of your life for seven years or whatever it was, and then that's gone."

The inter-county famine is about to end, giving way to a nine-week feast of Allianz Football League action between the weekend after next and the four divisional finals in Croke Park on March 30/31. The exciting programme features 116 games across the four divisions in a campaign which will mark the 27th year of Allianz’ partnership with the GAA as sponsor of the Allianz Leagues, making it one of the longest-running sponsorships in Irish sport. In attendance at the Allianz Football League 2019 launch in Dublin are, from left, Ryan Wylie of Monaghan, Shane Walsh of Galway and Stephen O'Brien of Kerry.

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Picture credit: Sportsfile

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