By DARAGH SMALL
Kerry manager Eddie Sheehy says that regaining the TG4 Munster Ladies senior football championship title is his initial aim as the rebuilding begins after a couple of turbulent months for the county on and off the field.
Kerry were docked three points for fielding an unregistered player in their 2-14 to 2-6 Lidl National League Division 1 victory over Mayo at Brosna in February.
They were subsequently relegated from Division 1 and their manager Graham Shine stepped down at the end of April.
Sheehy took over the reigning Munster champions from interim boss Ciaran McCabe last month and takes charge of his side for the first time in their provincial semi-final clash with Waterford at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney on Sunday.
“Relegation was tough to take. But we have to gather ourselves together and move on. All of that is in the past. We have to look to the future. All we are concentrating on at the moment is the championship,” said Sheehy.
“All of the teams in Munster are to be respected. The football in Munster is getting stronger with Cork and Tipperary in the other semi-final. Even with Clare and Limerick, they are getting stronger as well.
“Waterford have Maria Delahunty. Defensively they are strong and hard to break down but quick then going forward.
“They have good forwards and then they have Emma Murray and Michelle McGrath in the backs. They have a hugely experienced manager in Pat Sullivan.
“It’s getting competitive down here and it’s great for the Munster championship. The Munster championship is the main goal for us at the moment anyway.”
Sheehy previously managed the Na Gaeil club in Tralee, and he was a selector when they claimed All-Ireland honours in 2013 with victory over Dunedin Connollys in the junior decider.
Kerry star Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh was influential for that Na Gaeil team while clubmates Laura Fitzgerald, Deirdre Kearney and Maeve Barry – sister of Jack Barry – will all be involved with Kerry in the championship this year.
Sunday’s clash with Waterford also acts as the curtain raiser for the men of Kerry and Clare in the Munster SFC semi-final, and Sheehy knows that can also be a massive boost for ladies football in the province.
“I am delighted to take over. Looking forward to the challenge of it. We have great bunch of girls, good footballers. Getting the chance to work with them is exciting,” said Sheehy.
“Waterford will be tough to break down and hard to beat. But we are getting a chance to play in Fitzgerald Stadium against them and it’s an exciting opportunity for us.
“It’s a huge boost to play before the Kerry and Clare game. We are getting an opportunity to showcase ladies football on the big stage.
“By the time the men’s game starts there will between 9,000 and 12,000 people there. It’s exciting for ourselves and Waterford. We are looking for the fans to get in early so they can see how ladies football has improved.
“It’s as good to watch as any men’s game.”