It was a tough, uncomprimising game in Castlebar, but Kerry boss Éamonn Fitzmauruce feels the nature of the win over Mayo will stand to his side ahead of even sterner tests as the year progresses.

The Kingdom ran out 1-15 to 2-09 winners in Saturday's Division 1 tie at MacHale Park, despite playing with just 13 men for the final 20 minutes following the dismissal of Ronan Shanahan and Gavin Crowley. Still Kerry restricted the hosts to just two scores in the final quarter.

Reflecting on the game, Fitzmaurice told RTÉ Sport: "The thing tonight was for the younger players to be exposed to that kind of battle against a seasoned, experienced team. It was Division 1 football at it's best. The learning for them is incalcuable.

"When were down to 13 men the lads showed a lot of courage, showed a lot of know-how playing a kind of game we wouldn't be too used to playing.

"Indiscipline did get us into a bit of bother but we showed good discipline in the last ten minutes to see it out.

"If you want to survive in Division 1 you have to be able to stand up."

Rising star David Clifford picked up an injury in the first half and had to go off, with Fitzmaurice adding: "He give his hamstring a bit of a tweak, the pitch was heavy. It was unfortunate and we're hoping it's nothing too serious. We got him off straight away."