Guiding the divisional side may have been his job description but his lifetime membership of the club team created an emotional complication as he watched on from the sideline in Fitzgerald Stadium.
“I’ve made no secret of it, it was a very, very difficult thing to contend with. It was also difficult last year. At the final whistle this year I’d mixed emotions. But I’ve a job to do. When I was asked to train Mid Kerry there was always a possibility of meeting your own club. That happened, even if I’d have preferred if it didn’t. But you have to deal with the situation and to be fair Laune Rangers do understand that.”
Mid Kerry’s emphatic success maintained their recent winning ways yet the season has been a gruelling ordeal at times. Their hectic schedule of late was preceded by a barren summer in the county, as club players were placed in cold storage. Sheehan is forthright in his criticism on the collapse of the club championships during the primary playing months of the year.
“This system that we have in Kerry, I’ve made it quite clear before and I won’t pull any punches on it, it’s a joke of a system. It has to change for the better of club players and also for inter-county players. You can’t have 15 inter-county players sitting on a bench and not getting games for club, division or inter-county. It just has to change. I never found it hard to get players together. It was the players who found it hard to get time and the opportunity. There were leagues cancelled and loads of other things going on.”
Still Mid Kerry have found a way to overcome those obstacles and secure a first Kerry SFC final placing since 1992. They’ve been knocking on the semi-final door over the past few years, losing to Dr Crokes in 2006 and then being squeezed out of a three-game saga by South Kerry last season. Sheehan contends that those experiences were critical in aiding their negotiation of the last four hurdle this year.
“The last couple of years have of course stood to us. You can’t teach experience, that is something that has to be learnt. The players learnt it the hard way last year after the third game against South Kerry left us with a very empty feeling. We’d played eight championship games throughout the season and yet ended up with nothing. It’s not a nice place to be in when you’re beaten in a semi-final. But the experience has stood to them. Now that they’re in the final, they’ve to make the best of it.
“Kerins O’Rahillys are a huge test. The two games they had against South Kerry in the semi-final were cracking games of football. They are a fine, strong football team. You look at their midfield and they’re a pairing that would get on most inter-county teams. But then the system has had problems for them as well. They had to play Nemo last Sunday in the Munster, and you don’t know will they be fresh or worn out from all the games. Yet it happened to Tyrone when they won ten games in 2005 to win the All-Ireland so it could be like that for O’Rahillys as well.”