"Whenever you get called into Kerry, you’d be nervous about it the first night" 5 months ago

"Whenever you get called into Kerry, you’d be nervous about it the first night"

He's still only 20 but Sean O'Shea feels it's his time to lead.

Last year was his first in the Kerry senior panel but with experienced campaigners Donaghy, O'Sullivan, Walsh and Maher having left over the winter, the bedding in period is well and truly behind him and his fellow youngsters now and the onus is on them to to drive it on this year.

To be stepping up at training, to be encouraging others too, to stand up in matches and to drag Kerry along with them.

That's exactly how the Kenmare man wants it to be.

“There have been four notable retirements. It’s a younger squad than usual but us younger lads would want to be stepping up into leadership roles now too," he said to us at the launch of the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup.

His mind takes him back to this time last year when he, along with a bunch of other youngsters were in their first few weeks in the Kingdom senior fold and he couldn't forget the nerves that came along with it, especially that very first night.

Whenever you get called into Kerry, you’d be nervous about it the first night. Having the few fellas there that you knew and would talk to (was helpful) You could pop a message at them to see what the craic was like, to see what the set up was like aswell. That helps to guide you through the first few sessions and that too."

Those first few sessions were hectic and hard hitting, especially for a youngster of just nineteen at the time trying to make his mark in the ever competitive Kerry forward line.

"Every night training there it is competitive, just battling to get on the team for the league, no one takes the foot off the pedal at all."

"Kerry is known for producing forwards. It's tough and you always have to be on your toes in training trying to get a jersey or hold onto a jersey. You're playing with some of the best forwards in the country."

While it didn't turn out to be a great year for Kerry, knocked out on D-day of the Super 8s, O'Shea puts that down to the players and adds that Eamonn Fitzmaurice and his management team did everything they possibly could have for the cause.

Eamonn was great. Eamonn  gave me my first start in both the league and the championship so I owe a lot to Eamonn. All the finer details, he really looked after them. Things didn’t really look out for us last year, (that was down to) the performances from the players more than anything else...The backroom team were exceptional… They looked after every last detail. They prepared for everything so professionally and it was great to be in that environment.”

Despite his inexperience, O'Shea was one of Kerry's best players last year, hitting the ground running in the League and making the number 11 jersey his own with some mature performances and fine tallies in the championship.

He's learned a lot from that first year in the deep-end and he hopes it will stand him in good stead for 2019, kicking off with a Sigerson Cup campaign for UCC.

"It's massive. It's tough to get a Sigerson Cup medal. Not many fellas in Kerry have them so it would be something you'd be looking forward to. You go to UCC and the main thing there is the history and the tradition of football and hurling."

Getting to play with, to know and to live with lads from different counties is both an education and a bit of craic.

"There's fellas from Cork, Tipp, Limierck, Meath and counties like that. It's great to get know these guys, you're usually playing on the opposite side but you learn stuff off them when you're playing with them and having the craic with them.

"I'm living with three other lads on the Sigerson Cup team and it's good to be in a football house as well for when you're going training and that."

Expect a big year from Sean O'Shea, that's what he expects himself.

Seamus Flanagan at the launch of Electric Ireland's Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and Higher Education Championships announcement at Clanna Gael GAA Club in Dublin. Electric Ireland will live stream a selection of Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup games, bringing fans closer to the action than ever before. As part of the First Class Rivals campaign, rival county footballers but now college teammates, Sean O’Shea (Kerry and UCC) and Cian Kiely (Cork and UCC), Michael McKernan (Tyrone and UU) and Eoghan Bán Gallagher (Donegal and UU) and hurlers, Brian Hogan (Tipperary and UCD) and Seamus Flanagan (Limerick and UCD) will each will put aside their traditional county rivalries, pulling on matching college jerseys to compete as teammates for glory in the Electric Ireland GAA Higher Education Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup.