Kerry’s Marc Ó Sé said the steadying influence of manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice was a key factor in their 37th All-Ireland Football Championship success at Croke Park this afternoon.
The Kingdom edged out Donegal in a tactical affair, 2-09 to 0-12, as they defied the odds for an unlikely Sam Maguire victory.
Asked whether it was the best All-Ireland win, Ó Sé said: “I have to go along with that. There was a lot of stuff said about this team. When we closed the doors to training, there was a lot said about that.
“Last year when we played the Dubs in the semi-final, I thought we gave a great performance. We came up short because the Dubs were just phenomenal on the day.
“But we knew we were very close to the ultimate prize, which is the Sam Maguire today.
“Eamonn guided us all the way through. We kept to the game plan. There was a lot of tough days.
“Cork in Tralee in the National League (10-point win for Cork) was a very poor performance by the Kingdom.
“Personally it was a bad day for myself as well.
“But we went back training. Eamonn, he was the man. He kept us grounded, inspired us and it was like playing with a 16th man out on the football field today.”
"We knew we were very close to the ultimate prize, which is the Sam Maguire"
The corner-back was dropped for the semi-final replay with Mayo and revealed talks with Fitzmaurice allowed him to gain perspective in the build-up to the decider.
He added that faith in each other inspired the Kerry team.
“I was very disappointed after the semi-final, the replay, to be dropped.
“But Eamonn sat me down, he told me the way it was.
“The respect you have for the man, he told me this is the way it was going and this is what we are doing. I wasn't too happy but you have to go along with it.
“I trusted him and I think that has been the secret to our success. He's been that steady influence.
“There is nothing that he misses. He's incredible and we're delighted to have him.”