Kerry minor football captain Seán O’Shea believes St Brendans’ Hogan Cup win back in April was the foundation upon which a third successful All-Ireland campaign was built.
With just two survivors carrying over from Kerry’s 2015 All-Ireland winning team, O’Shea reckons that the Killarney school’s success, the experience of winning a final of note in Croke Park and the number of players who subsequently graduated to Peter Keane’s panel were the crucial ingredients in Sunday’s three-in-a-row victory.
Six of that Sem team started against Galway, including goalscorers David Clifford, David Shaw, man-of-the-match Dara Moynihan and centre-back Daniel O’Brien. “There is huge work being done in the schools. Dingle won two-in-a-row and you then had the Sem winning this year. There has to be some correlation there because there were six Sem lads starting for Kerry,” said O’Shea.
“They had the big-match experience. The experience the guys are getting from playing in those Hogan Cup finals is standing to us when these fellas come back into the panel. They are bringing what they have learned into our panel and it has rubbed off.
“It was 20 years the county went without winning a minor and now we have won three-in-a-row. That is a good sign for things to come.”
The Kenmare forward described Sunday’s decider as their toughest fixture of the year and paid tribute to his forward colleagues for staying the course after what was a trying opening period - Kerry were held to one score in the opening 18 minutes.
“This year, we probably had to work a bit harder for the final. In that way, it is probably a bit sweeter [than last year].
“Any day you win an All-Ireland is a great day, they don’t top each other. The first-half was very frustrating. We knew what was coming. We knew Galway would set up defensively because of the scores we were putting up. It was a very tough day in the office. We kicked 2-2 in the first-half. I don’t know when was the last time we only kicked two points in 30 minutes. Thankfully, we got the goals and that kind of drove us on.
“We had worked hard for what was coming. We had played A v B games at training where the other team would put extra bodies in defence.
“We were expecting it from Galway and we were used to it. We didn’t panic. Once we were six up at half-time, that was a great place for us to be.”
O’Shea was also fulsome in his praise of manager Peter Keane who was appointed to the post late last year with the unenviable task of building on Jack O’Connor back-to-back wins. “The management team was great this year. Anything you needed, you could contact them. They are very open. They helped us in every way they could and that is why we could perform on the big day. There was never too much pressure on us. They tried to get us to play a nice brand of football that we enjoy and we have great craic in training.”
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