Sean O'Shea flying under the radar for Kerry says Tommy Walsh

Seanie O'Shea (left) famously knocked Dublin out of last year's All-Ireland with a late, long-range free
Seanie O'Shea (left) famously knocked Dublin out of last year's All-Ireland with a late, long-range free Seanie O'Shea (left) famously knocked Dublin out of last year's All-Ireland with a late, long-range free

KERRY great Tommy Walsh reckons Seanie O’Shea is well positioned to punish Dublin at Croke Park for the second summer running.

Much of the build-up to Sunday’s All-Ireland decider has centred on Kerry’s gifted captain and talisman David Clifford.

But O’Shea remains a key figure for the Kingdom and memorably sickened Dublin with his match-winning point from a long-range free in last year’s semi-final.

The Kenmare man’s form has steadily improved as this year’s Championship has gone on, blasting 1-5 against Tyrone before impressing against Derry.

Walsh, an impact sub for the 2019 finals against Dublin, said O’Shea looks like he is coming to the boil at just the right time and suggested he’ll enjoy the low profile.

“Sean probably doesn’t get the credit that he deserves,” said the Allianz ambassador.

“It’s kind of similar to Declan O’Sullivan and Gooch Cooper a small bit. Gooch was getting all the headlines whereas Declan was obviously an exceptional player but was probably a little bit under the radar. Sean is kind of similar.

“Having played alongside him and seen the work he does across the half-forward line, it’s absolutely phenomenal.

“He’s played good games against Dublin before and his graph is definitely on the right trajectory in terms of form this year, so I’m sure he’ll be looking forward to the weekend.

‘‘He’s going to have a big part to play. If he’s kicking two or three points, plus whatever he gets from frees, that’s a big ace in Kerry’s deck.”

Walsh feels that Allstar performers like Paul Geaney and Paudie Clifford could similarly benefit from the focus being elsewhere.

“I think it’s a great position for the likes of Sean O’Shea, Paul Geaney, Paudie Clifford, because everyone is talking about David,” said the former Aussie Rules player.

“I know if that was me, I’d be thinking, ‘I’m coming in under the radar here, they mightn’t necessarily be as focused on me as they should be’, especially given the talent that those players have.

“I’m sure those guys will put in a performance and that it will be a generally rounded performance from Kerry’s forwards, as opposed to just David shooting the lights out.”

Towering attacker Walsh came on in both finals in 2019, when Dublin beat Kerry after a replay.

Current boss Jack O’Connor has his own selection conundrum for Sunday’s decider with Stephen O’Brien performing so strongly as a sub.

The problem for O’Connor is that O’Brien has been one of the few to add real punch when coming in from the bench, so starting him would deplete their reserves.

“From a personal point of view, I was doing everything I could to start those finals in 2019 and I’m sure Stephen is doing the same over the last two weeks,” said Walsh.

“I could understand at the same time why he’d be held back and particularly when you look at the substitutes that Dublin are probably going to have.

“You have Stephen O’Brien, Brian O Beaglaoich, hopefully Killian Spillane will be fit, Tony Brosnan I see is out now, which is a loss, but you will have an impact there.

“The Dublin bench obviously speaks for itself but it’s important that Kerry are going to be able to counteract that when they do bring those guys on.”

One of the principal match-ups on Sunday will be at midfield where the expectation is that Jack Barry and Dublin’s Brian Fenton will go head to head again.

Diarmuid O’Connor, next to Barry, has been enjoying strong form too and could face off against Brian Howard, or James McCarthy if Dublin choose to put their captain there.

“Jack Barry traditionally goes to Fenton,” noted the Tralee man. 

“There’s a perception that he’s done well against him over the years. Generally with a player like Fenton, you just have to keep him some way quiet and you’ve done well because he’s such a dominant player.

“But I think if Jack can hold his own, you’d be hoping that Diarmuid can do something similar to what he did against Tyrone which was get involved, get ball in, get on the scoresheet. Kerry will be in a very good place if Jack and Diarmuid play well.”