Monday 11 December 2017

Captaincy will bring out the best in me - Sheehan

It was decreed that Bryan Sheehan will lead Kerry in 2016: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
It was decreed that Bryan Sheehan will lead Kerry in 2016: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

In an arena where teams are scrapping for the small margins, the practice of appointing county captains based on club championship winners is one that has been losing its appeal.

Having a captain effectively imposed on a side doesn't fit with modern thinking and nowadays only a handful of counties remain wedded to the principle after Tipperary opted out of the practice a few years ago.

Kerry persist with the system however and through their myriad of divisional teams and regional championships it was decreed that Bryan Sheehan will lead the county in 2016. His credentials for the job look impeccable.

At 30 and with five All-Ireland medals, he's one of the most experienced and decorated players left in the Kerry.

He's also an All-Star, and a former captain of the Kingdom at minor, U-21 and senior level when he led the county to a Munster title in 2010.

He's also adaptable enough to play anywhere from midfield up - and even had a stint as goalkeeper with the Kerry minors in 2002.

"It's something that's going to bring the best out of me," he said of leading Eamonn Fitzmaurice's side this term.

Pressure

"My expectations are going to go through the roof. The pressure that's on me is going to come from myself.

"It's not going to come from Eamonn, it's not going to come from the public, it's not going to come from (the media), the pressure of the Kerry captaincy is going to come from myself and how I perform and behave in 2016."

Sheehan's been on the go pretty much non-stop since the All-Ireland final defeat to Dublin.

At one stage he played for 13 consecutive weekends as the South Kerry and St Mary's glory trains kept rolling. It begs the question as to whether he'll be found wanting by the time August gets here.

"You can be experienced but if you haven't the hunger you might as well pack it up.

"For me, it's the hunger that's driving everything I do, it's the hunger that's pushing me to be on the Kerry team, it's the hunger to stay on the team, the hunger of winning a county championship with South Kerry, it's the hunger of winning the South Kerry championship.

"I've eight South Kerry championships. I think the record is nine or ten with Pat O'Connor. I want to go and match that record, I want to go beat that record, it's the hunger that drives you."

Saturday week's All-Ireland IFC final with St Mary's means he'll only look on this weekend as his Kerry side go to Croke Park to face Dublin.

Sheehan points out that after Saturday night Kerry's footballers might not get back to HQ until August. The Dubs have the sign over Kerry at the minute with three championship defeats but Sheehan insists there's no fear factor.

Bogey

"They're not a bogey team," he offered.

"I know they're a good side, don't get me wrong. Do I fear them? No. How long was it before that that they beat us? Were we their bogey team? Look it's three games.

"2011 no doubt we were the better team, we threw that game away, we threw away an All Ireland in 2011, we were the better team, that was 2011.

"2013 came down to a break of a ball. A breaking ball in the middle of the field that they won.

"It could have gone over the bar, it dipped down below the crossbar and into the net and all of a sudden their tails were up and the Hill was buzzing and then last year it comes down to that they were hungrier than us in an All-Ireland final (last year). They won it and that's it."

When the club season finally ends, he'll come back to try and force his way into Fitzmaurice's side.

And it's a challenge he feels ready for despite the amount of football he has played in the 'off-season'.

"The tiredness mightn't come and please God it doesn't," Sheehan continued.

"I would be hoping to play with Kerry for other four or five years, hopefully if things work out.

"Some morning I might wake up and decide that I'm not able to play anymore so who knows.

"My point is, I've the opportunity this year to captain Kerry.

"I think we've an unbelievable chance of winning the All-Ireland, I think the squad that's there is ferocious."

Irish Independent

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