Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice believes his side will “have to be at their best” to beat Donegal in the All-Ireland final but is nevertheless excited by the prospect of trying the lower the colours of Jim McGuinness’ charges.

Sunday’s clash at Croke Park is the first ever meeting between the counties in the decider, with the view from most observers that the contest will be close on the scoreboard.

Since their semi-final win after extra-time in the replay against Mayo at the Gaelic Grounds, Fiizmaurice’s thoughts have turned to Donegal and the puzzle of trying to beat their system.

“We hope to get things right and polished up for the final because we’ll have to be at our best to beat Donegal,” he told RTÉ.  

"Donegal have a very solid game plan. They repeat it, repeat it and repeat it. They are very hard to beat. They have a massive belief in themselves and in their manager. 

“It’s a huge challenge for us but it’s a challenge that I’m relishing. My management team are the same and so are the players. It’s great to be in an All-Ireland final and having that challenge of trying to beat Donegal.”

The victory over Mayo was testament to Kerry’s character as more than once they hauled themselves back into both games.

According to their manager, that resolve will stand them to them as they bid to win Sam Maguire for the first time since 2009.

“23 players played over the two days. We needed every one of them and they all played well. We were delighted with the way our middle third played particularly in the replay.

"We gave Mayo a lot of trouble on their own kick-outs – a very strong feature of their game. It was a big factor in our victory. We know we’ll have to do more of the same in the final.” 

"It’s great to be in an All-Ireland final and having that challenge of trying to beat Donegal"

Kieran Donaghy’s presence on the edge of the square was a big factor in the Kingdom securing their place in the final and how Donaghy is used on Sunday will be one of the key things to watch as part of Fitzmaurice’s overall gameplan.

“We definitely have options and we can mix up our game,” he added.

"I think with Kieran [Donaghy] inside, and considering the way he performed the last day, we could go with something similar in the final. 

"We have to take into account that Donegal like to get bodies behind the ball, pick up the breaks and drive it from there. In the ideal world, you like to mix both games. We‘ll just have to get the right plan in place."

Kerry: Road To The Final


Donegal: The Road To The Final

Live coverage of Kerry v Donegal in the All-Ireland football final from 12.30pm on RTÉ2 (throw-in 3.30pm). Watch live on RTÉ Player (Ireland only) and worldwide via GAAGO. Live radio coverage from 2pm on RTÉ Radio 1.