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Sheehan confident Kerry can stop final-quarter collapses

Bryan Sheehan has vowed that Kerry will keep their "foot on the pedal" when they're in a winning position later this summer.

The Kingdom coughed up a lead against Dublin in last year's All-Ireland final and followed that up by losing another against Mayo in their league semi-final clash, and the St Mary's, Caherciveen clubman revealed that the squad discussed the final-quarter collapses.

"I wouldn't say it's an issue but it's something we've spoken about as a group of players," Sheehan said at the launch of the GAA's new jewellery collection. "We should maybe keep the foot on the pedal and push on."

While 2011 ended in defeat for Kerry, Sheehan was the Kingdom's success story. Having had a stint in goals for Kerry underage sides, he had established himself as an inside forward with the senior side before he was switched, out of necessity, to the engine room by manager Jack O'Connor 12 months ago.

A dead-eye free taker, Sheehan believes he was sometimes accommodated in the team even though it wasn't his natural position.

"With Kerry I was put into the forwards to try and maybe find a place for me but it's great to be out the middle of the field. I love playing out there and hopefully I can stay there," he said.

"You have to work really hard out there, you have to get up and down the field. You have to go from 20-yard line to 20-yard line.

"One of the points about the game I've had to learn an awful lot about is defensively and getting back and helping out and tackling.

"That probably wouldn't have been my strongest part of my game when I was in the forwards."

On Sunday week he'll square off against arguably the best midfield partnership in the game in Cork's Alan O'Connor and Nicholas Murphy, but he believes his double act with Anthony Maher will continue to improve.

"So far it's going well. Johnny Buckley and Seamus Scanlon are going well in the middle of the field too. They're really pushing us and that's what you need. It's good. You get a good understanding and talk to each other about who's going to cover where."

The 26-year-old admits surprise at how well 2011 went for him on a personal level, but he has a proven track record as a midfielder.

He steered St Mary's to an All-Ireland junior club title last year and he has featured there for divisional side South Kerry, who have won four county titles since 2004.

"This year is going to be a big year for me now to make sure it wasn't a once off and wasn't a fluke," he said. "Last year teams weren't expecting anything from me and maybe I might be watched a bit more."

Irish Independent