Former Kerry footballer is now a selector with Cork
BY KIERAN McCARTHY
SOMETIME over the winter – exactly when, we’re not sure – Billy Sheehan was promoted to the role of a Cork senior football selector.
We’re basing this on the following evidence:
On the official match programme for the All-Ireland SFC Round 4B qualifier between Cork and Donegal on July 30th, there was no mention of Kerry man Sheehan in the Cork management team … even though he was involved in the set-up last year, possibly as a coach/trainer/selector in the role that had been earmarked for Castlehaven’s James McCarthy before it fell through in late 2015.
Fast forward to February 2nd this year when we pinged an email to Cork PRO Donal Leahy enquiring about the exact title of Sheehan’s role with the Rebels.
The response: ‘Billy Sheehan’s role with the Cork senior footballers for 2017 will be as a selector.’
And in the official match programme for the opening Munster SFC game against Waterford, Sheehan’s name (and his club St Judes in Dublin) was first on the list of roghnóirí (selectors).
With Paudie Kissane exiting stage left after 2016, Sheehan was next in line to step up and swell the management team’s thinking well.
Well, that’s our theory as we never received official news from the greater powers above.
For whatever reason the appointment was kept quiet, and never officially ratified at a county board meeting. Maybe the thought of having a Kerry man involved in the senior management team (the first in such a position, we believe) is hard for some natives to stomach when results and performances aren’t enough to appease fans – but needs must, as they say. And Sheehan was deemed the best man for the job he was handed in 2015.
In manager Peadar Healy, Sheehan has a fan.
‘Billy is an exceptionally good coach,’ Healy enthused last Saturday.
‘He has a great grasp of football. He’s training is exceptionally good.
‘It’d be nice for us anyway if he could help turn Kerry over.’
Understandably, Sheehan has kept a low profile since getting involved with the Rebels in late 2015 and we haven’t seen him interviewed.
Sheehan, we presume, wants his work to do the talking. And nothing would shout louder than a shock Cork win in Killarney this Sunday with Sheehan involved on the line for the Rebels, in opposition to Eamonn Fitzmaurice who he won Cork and Munster SFC titles with for UCC back in 1999 when the college bettered Nemo locally.
Team mates then, now in opposition, Fitzmaurice and Sheehan embarked on very different paths to get to Fitzgerald Stadium this Sunday afternoon.
Billy, son of well-known Kerryman GAA correspondent Timmy Sheehan, is a former Austin Stacks footballer who once scored a hat-trick in the Munster U21 championship for Kerry – and made 11 appearances for Kerry between 2001 and ’03, which include eight for the seniors in the league and three at U21 level – who then moved to join up with Emo in Laois, and from 2005 to 2014 he lined out with the Leinster men, originally called up by then-manager Mick O’Dwyer.
In 2006 Sheehan won a Dublin SFC title with UCD and he is now with his third season with St Judes’ in the capital, the same club that Niall Coakley, formerly of Carrigaline, plays for.
Sheehan’s own club, Austin Stacks, home to Kieran Donaghy, is never far from his heart – and he has been the man with the megaphone, leading the club’s traditional march and shouting his heart out for the Tralee club in their 2014/15 Kerry, Munster and All-Ireland run.
He won’t need any megaphone if Cork spring the surprise of the summer this Sunday.
We quizzed Kerry selector Mikey Sheehy, he of Stacks’ fame and, we think, possibly managed Sheehan with the club at one point, if there will be a bit of banter with their club man this week.
‘I know Billy well but I wouldn’t have his number and he wouldn’t have mine,’ Sheehy said.
No phone contact, so.
We’re reminded of a conversation we had with a Cork football figure at a wedding in Tralee last year when his repeated message was ‘watch this space.’
We’ve watched and watched and watched, but, as of yet, nothing.
He’ll hope his words come true.