WHAT makes an inter-county player different to the rest? Probably their ability to take mistakes on the chin and make up for them in equal measure. Bryan Sheehan's performance in JP O'Sullivan Park, Killorglin last Sunday serves as a case in point.
The Kerry midfielder inexplicably missed a clear goal chance inside the opening 20 seconds after tearing through the heart of the Kenmare defence but he didn't let it affect him in the way others might have and went on to put over 10 points. The final one was a sideline ball that had all the hallmarks of his club-mate Maurice Fitzgerald's effort for Kerry in Thurles 12 years ago as St Marys overcame Kenmare by four points after a tightly contested match throughout.
As important as Sheehan's contribution was, two second-half saves from St Marys' goalkeeper Damian Horgan were just as crucial as he denied the returning Paul O'Connor two goal chances that might well have swung the tie in the Shamrocks' favour. Stephen O'Brien made his first competitive start from the injury that hampered him during the run to the All-Ireland Junior Club final but he didn't show any signs of rust as he found the back of the net in the eighth minute to give Kenmare the early initiative as Mark Crowley's frees kept them in front for most of the first half in a tit-for-tat battle.
Sheehan was starting to settle, however, getting half of his final total in the first-half as despite some dispute over a Denis Daly point in the 21st minute, Paul O'Donoghue's second point in the 28th minute gave the South Kerry side a 0-9 to 1-5 lead at the interval.
Kenmare played their trump card after the restart, Paul O'Connor making his return to competitive action for the first time in two months but while his first effort at Horgan in the 40th minute was from a difficult angle, there was no denying the quality of the St Marys keeper's second save from O'Connor in the 54th minute.
O'Brien found O'Connor with a pin-point pass and while he caught the ball perfectly with his low effort, Horgan dived instinctively to his right in forcing the ball away for a '45' which O'Connor subsequently converted. Paul O'Donoghue had cracked the underside of the bar for St Marys at the other end in the 47th minute but Sean Cournane was on hand to put over the rebound as the Cahersiveen side began to take control around the three-quarter mark.
Sheehan vowed all with his effort from the sideline with three minutes left to give him the 'perfect ten' on the day as despite a second O'Connor point from a free, Daniel Daly put over the game's final score for St Marys on the stroke of 60 minutes for a four point win. Sheehan was the undoubted star on the day for his club but they have a lot of work horses in players such as the Daly's, Ray Keane and Paul O'Donoghue to suggest they will take beating in the competition. John Mitchels await for them in the quarter-finals but the County League will have to do for Kenmare after the dizzy heights scaled over the last 12 months.
Kenmare: Hughie Murphy, Dara Crowley, Aaron O'Callaghan, Tommy O'Sullivan, Colm O'Sullivan, Sean O'Leary, Aidan Crowley, Jimmy Wharton (0-1), Shane Duncan (0-2), Shane Dalton, Stephen O'Brien (1-3), James Duncan, Alan O'Leary, Mark Crowley (0-4, 4f), Kevin O'Sullivan. Subs: Paul O'Connor (0-2, 1f, 1 '45') for James Duncan and Sean Murphy for Shane Duncan
St Marys: Damian Horgan, Sean O'Shea Daniel O'Sullivan, Darragh O'Sullivan, Niall O'Driscoll, Kieran O'Driscoll, Shane Horgan, Denis Daly (0-1), Bryan Sheehan (0-10, 5f, 1sl), Aidan Walsh (0-1), Ray Keane (0-2), Conor Quirke, Sean Cournane (0-1), Daniel Daly (0-2), Paul O'Donoghue (0-2) Sub: Austin Constable for Keane
Referee: Ger D O'Carroll (Asdee)