John Sheehan can still picture the scene. A few hours after missing a penalty in an underage match, his son Bryan spent the afternoon practicing spot-kicks in the garden of their Cahirciveen home oblivious to the sheets of rain.
“I knew he had the bug when after missing a penalty playing an U10 soccer game he came home and went out in the back-garden practising,” recalled John at Radio Kerry’s All-Ireland final preview night in the Legends Lounge at the Sea Lodge Hotel. “I came home late and the mother said, ‘Get him in out of there. He is all wet, it is cold and he won’t come in’.
“I went out to him and I told him to come in. ‘No’, he said. ‘I have got to get this right’. And he kept at it and at it. If you hadn’t got the bug, you wouldn’t stay it.
“From a very young age he knew practice makes perfect. He was at it all the time. He had a ball in the sack all the time.” With Bryan heading into his ninth All-Ireland final, John anticipates a relaxed build-up in the Sheehan household this week “Bryan doesn’t get excited that easily. He takes it in his stride. The evening before he likes to go for a few frees.
“He is up for the battle. He has had a good year this year. He has got a good run, been injury free.
“I enjoy the occasion. You are born and bred in football and football is a disease. I know you will be tense, but you will still get a kick of it.” Further south along the N70 in Renard, Áine Young doesn’t cut as composed a figure as John Sheehan.
“Never did I think we would have a son playing for Kerry. It is just magic,” she said of Killian’s involvement with the county squad.
“My first encounter with the Sam Maguire will be 30-years ago in a fortnight’s time, 1985. Myself and Gene got married and we had our reception here in Waterville.
“Mick O’Dwyer and Mary Carmel were managing it and when we arrived, to our surprise, Páidí Ó Sé and the rest of the Kerry team were here with Sam Maguire.
“That was my first time holding Sam Maguire and little did I think it would be on the kitchen table some time after. Let us hope there will be another on Sunday.”
Killian, according to his father Gene, was something of a late developer.
“When he was 13 or 14, he was playing underage with Renard and two of the lads brought him down. The first evening they put him in goals. When they brought him back they said he was very shy. After that they put him outfield and he improved a bit. After that then, we could see they wanted him for all the games.
“Later on then he played with Coláiste Na Sceilge, I had to go to a parent-teacher meeting one evening. Martha Daly was teaching him English, that happened to be of a Wednesday, the same day as Colaiste na Sceilige were training for football.
“She said, ‘Killian has to either play football or come in here and learn English’. He took to the football. He has a bit of English too!”
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