Kerry forward James O'Donoghue’s career has been blighted by injury in recent years, but manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice took great heart in the contribution the 2014 Footballer of the Year made in his side’s 1-13 to 1-09 win over Cork in the McGrath Cup on Sunday afternoon.
O'Donoghue, whose only championship appearance last season came in the win over Clare, looked to have put his shoulder problems behind him as he finished with a personal tally of 1-03 in Mallow.
“He’s in great form,” Fitzmaurice enthused.
“He’s been looking forward to the games.
“He’s worked hard over the winter, his body’s good.
“James loves playing matches and he’s been looking forward to the matches coming up.
“It’s great for him to a get a game like that under his belt.”
Reflecting on the win over the Rebels which set up a McGrath Cup final against Limerick next weekend, Fitzmaurice told RTÉ Sport: “I’m happy with the result.
“It’s great to have another competitive game to look forward to next weekend.
“We’ll be playing against Limerick in the McGrath Cup final.
“We haven’t played against each other in a couple of years.
“We played a lot of good football in the first half, did a lot of good things that we would have been happy with.
“Not so good in the second half, we made a lot of mistakes, which isn’t that unusual for this time of the year and we allowed Cork back into It, but we just about hung on in the end.”
While Limerick may provide Kerry with their immediate focus, their league opener against Donegal on 5 February is very much on the manager’s radar.
“It’s an ultra-competitive Division 1,” he opined.
“Every team is capable of beating each other and you’re always scrapping for points.
“Our first league game is up in Letterkenny against Donegal.
“That’s always a tough place to go and get points.
“Definitely, we’re looking towards that game.”