ÉAMONN FITZMAURICE HAS revealed that a player in the Kerry senior football panel received a letter telling them to “jump off a cliff”.
The Finuge clubman stepped down as Kerry manager at the weekend following his side’s exit from the All-Ireland SFC, and alluded to an air of “negativity that was coming at the team” in his parting statement.
He also referred to “anonymous letters” that he has received during his six-years in charge of the Kingdom.
Speaking on Off The Ball AM, Fitzmaurice expanded on that point and explained that managers are somewhat accustomed to getting this kind of mail in their position, but he stressed that targeting a player in a similar way was going “too far”.
“I’ve never taken any notice of that stuff because as I said, it goes with the territory,” Fitzmaurice began.
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“Jack O’Connor got it, Pat O’Shea got it, Páidí [Ó Sé] got it. Mick O’Dwyer won eight All-Irelands and he got it, so it’s not something that I was ever precious about but something that changed this summer was players, and one player in particular, that got a letter.
“And it was more what was in the letter that annoyed me and I felt it was gone too far.
The player was told to jump off a cliff and take three or four other players with him that were named in the letter. I felt that was going way too far.
“As I said, when it’s coming at a manager and the selectors got a few [letters] this summer as well which was no harm for them to get a touch of it,” he laughs, “but when it goes to a player, really it’s gone too far.”
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He continued: “The lads are amateurs. I’ve been in the dressing with a lot of those lads for six years, some of the younger lads for two or three years and there’s a good a bunch as you can meet.
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“They’re so dedicated and they’re so committed to the Kerry jersey it’s unbelievable. They were a fantastic bunch to work with so I’d always defend them to the hilt and I didn’t like that, I think that’s going too far really.”
When it was put to him that this kind of communication is a form of “hate mail”, Fitzmaurice agreed and while he said that the letter, which was sent during the summer, “didn’t bother” the player in question, the now former Kerry boss added:
“It is [hate mail] and I think with regard to the letters I’ve got myself and the anonymous letters, I wouldn’t go so far as to call them hate mail.
There have been some that have been fairly vitriolic but a lot of them wouldn’t and were in the harmless variety of things to be fair. They are anonymous letters and you wouldn’t take any notice of them but that one crossed the line that one that got the player.
“That’s probably where that came from on Saturday night, I hadn’t planned to say that but it came out.
“I know it’s taken a bit of a life of its own since. From the management perspective, I’d say there isn’t a manager in the country that doesn’t get some kind of a letter at some stage and that’s even club managers so as a Kerry manager you’re not going to be precious about that.
I think it’s definitely time to shout stop when players are getting very strongly worded letters like that.”
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