Sheehan: Winning an U20 All-Ireland the priority  

Bryan Sheehan won’t shy away from silverware targets in his new role as a selector on Tomás Ó Sé's Kerry U20 ticket.
Sheehan: Winning an U20 All-Ireland the priority  

SILVERWARE: Bryan Sheehan is prioritising an All-Ireland win.

It’s almost the stock answer for an underage coach these days — it’s not about winning, but supplying one or two players for the seniors. Bryan Sheehan acknowledges that brief, but won’t shy away from silverware targets in his new role as a selector on Tomás Ó Sé's Kerry U20 ticket.

“To be honest, we are prepping to win an All-Ireland u20,” Sheehan said, straight up, when asked where priorities lie on this week’s Irish Examiner Gaelic Football Show.

Sheehan accepts he's just one voice in a backroom team that also includes Seamus Moynihan and Seán Walsh, but as far as he's concerned ending a wait of 14 years for Kerry's next title at this level is crucial. 

“The county board have their own procedures in place for development of underage footballers from minor to u20 to senior — because there is such a gap now from underage to senior it’s very hard to bridge it.

“But our main focus is to win an All-Ireland, that’s exactly what it is. It’s important. We haven’t won it since 2008. These fellas, 20 years of age, you’d like to think they have their whole football career ahead of them. But it’s a massive step to go into intercounty senior level and I think what we are trying to do is get them ready to compete and show them if you want to compete at senior level this is what it takes. 

"And you’re trying to win an All-Ireland along the process, get them into good habits, into the habit of winning and about setting the standards that are required."

He's a recent convert to the lure of the sideline, having ruled out a venture into management earlier this year. 

"I said straight off the bat, no. I wasn’t there yet. I was contemplating going back playing football myself at club level.

“But I just got a phone call from Tomás. It was out of the blue, I wasn’t expecting it in the slightest. When an opportunity like that comes knocking on your doorstep, sometimes it can be very hard to stay no.

“I watched a lot of the U20s last year when Declan (O'Sullivan) was involved. I knew there was a good bulk of that group involved again. I was involved with South Kerry minors three years ago, so they’ll be the u20s coming up now. So I've seen a lot of the players. I knew there is a good core of a team."

Asked what he'll bring to the setup, Sheehan added: “I’m there as a selector. I’d like to bring my knowledge of the game from an attacking perspective, maybe work with the forwards on what is expected from them in terms of workrate, movement off the ball, and having my experience of what it takes to win at that level. 

"If I could talk to myself when I was 19 or 20 with what I know now, I'd be telling myself not to make the same mistakes that I did."

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