Kerry manager Peter Keane believes Maurice Fitzgerald could well be a future Kingdom manager, but for now is pleased to have his close friend in his backroom team for 2019.

Keane was handed the keys to the Kingdom on a three-year term earlier this week following the end of Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s six-year stint in the hotseat.

The St Mary’s clubman led Kerry to three consecutive All-Ireland minor crowns and was heavily backed to be a forerunner to succeed Fitzmaurice. The other candidate believed to be vying for the role was his club-mate, friend and best man at his wedding, Fitzgerald.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport’s Brian Carthy, Keane insisted having Fitzmaurice in his backroom team was a "no-brainer" and suggested that his own time at the helm may be further down the line.

"He’s a good friend of mine," he said. "A great guy and well able to talk. He would be a link to the Kerry set-up in the last couple of years and it is very important that you keep a link with what went on before."

"It might just have been too much at this moment in time. That’s not to say he’s not capable"

But did he want the top job himself?

"He would be more than capable himself of managing any team.

"I suppose when you look at his situation at the moment, he recently took over as principal [Coláiste na Sceilge in Caherciveen], it might just have been too much at this moment in time. That’s not to say he’s not capable."

He modestly admits that he "had a good run over the three years" with the minors and was pleased when he was approached by the County Board about his potential interest in the senior role.

Jason Foley and Tommy Griffin join him from the minor journey, while the hugely respected Donie Buckley will bring a wealth of experience in his role as coach and selector.

"Donie Buckle was to me an obvious candidate. He’s a through and through Kerry man, a top class coach and I approached him maybe a week after the All-Ireland. He was gung-ho to go."

After blooding through seven Championship debutants against Clare in their opening Munster assignment this year, provincial glory was all too easily secured. High expectations fell flat however in the inaugural Super 8s, with just one win as they made an early exit.

Kieran Donaghy is among the high profile retirees for Kerry

Throw in the retirements of some experienced personnel in Kieran Donaghy, Donnchadh Walsh and Anthony Maher, and Keane is at pains to stress that 2019 will be a work-in-progress.  

"There’s no doubt about it, it’s going to be very, very difficult. You compound that with the fact Kerry gave seven new players a championship start last year. That’s a huge turnover. You may very well find a few new players come in this year to fill the void of players who have departed.

"There is obviously huge expectation with the five All-Ireland minor medals, but there is no success guaranteed at senior."

With county semi-finals down for decision this weekend, the first step on the journey is to evaluate the talent at his disposal, something that the backroom team are eagerly looking forward to.

"We need to sit down and see where fellas are at. If some want to move on, we obviously have to respect the decision that they may make. There are a lot of fellas hungry to come through. It will be our job to have a rattle with them and see where we go.

"There are a lot of unknowns in this moment of time."

"There is probably a good future here for Kerry, but we must get up and rolling first"

Is challenging Dublin for All-Ireland honours a realistic target for 2019?

"Talking about All-Ireland in the month of October is a non-event. At this stage our priority is to pick a panel and see where we go from there. You can’t put the horse before the cart. I think the people in Kerry realise that too.

"There is probably a good future here for Kerry, but we must get up and rolling first."