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Sheehan: 'To a certain degree there is a gun to their head, they have to win'

Five-time All-Ireland winner Bryan Sheehan is expecting a positive response from Kerry when they travel to play Monaghan this weekend.

FIVE-TIME ALL-Ireland winner Bryan Sheehan says there is a significant amount of pressure on Kerry to come away with a result against Monaghan, after a poor performance in their Super 8s opener at the weekend.

David Clifford dejected Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Kerry struggled for much of their Croke Park encounter with Galway and a late consolation goal from David Clifford added a bit of gloss to the scoreboard as they suffered a dismal three-point defeat.

The result means that Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s squad are now facing a must-win trip to Clones this weekend, where they will take on a Monaghan side who won their opening Super 8s game against Kildare.

Sheehan — who is also a columnist with Paddy Power News — is familiar with the players in the current panel, and he’s expecting a positive reaction from the Kingdom this weekend.

“Honestly, I think from having been inside that dressing room with all these players, I only retired less than 12 months ago, and knowing the guys inside there and their character that there’s going to be a massive, massive performance out of Kerry next week in Clones. There’s no doubt in my mind about that.

“There’s a lot of pride in those players, things didn’t go right for them last Sunday and they’ll be disappointed. Having the opportunity to come back one week later is massive. You don’t get that kind of opportunity too often.

They can right a wrong almost right away. To a certain degree there is a gun to their head, they have to win. Going up to Clones will not be easy. It’s going to be a war of attrition. Monaghan have a fantastic record above there and they’ll have their tails up after beating Kildare.

“They’ll know that one more win will see them through. But if I was still in that dressing room I know that I would be so looking forward to next Sunday above in Clones. It’s going to be a hell of a game.”

Bryan Sheehan celebrates scoring a late point Bryan Sheehan in action for Kerry in 2017. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The age-profile of this Kerry squad has been mentioned throughout the championship campaign, and there were seven championship debutants in the side who inflicted a heavy defeat on Clare in the Munster championship.

A similar outfit went on to claim a sixth consecutive senior Munster crown for the county with a clinical display against Cork.

The 19-year-old Clifford is among Kerry’s new contingent of championship players and he was their top-scorer against Galway with a tally of 1-5 (0-1f).

Sheehan however, had certain reservations about the expectations that were being placed on this group.

“They really weren’t primed going into Croke Park while Galway had a good game against Mayo and another tough encounter against Roscommon.

There was an awful lot of talk about how good Kerry were against Cork and I said it at the time that I didn’t think we should be reading too much into it.

“You do need competitive games and this is where I think the super 8s will really benefit Kerry. They get another opportunity next week to get things right.

“While they may have been beaten, I think Sunday’s game will stand to them, especially given the age profile of the team. It’s a young team and it was their first outing in Croke Park so it will be a massive learning curve for them over the course of the Super 8s.”

He added that the young and less experienced members of the Kerry squad will take some lessons from the loss to Galway ahead of the meeting with Monaghan.

Stephen O'Brien celebrates scoring their first goal with David Clifford Stephen O'Brien celebrate a goal against Cork in the Munster SFC final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“There’s been a lot of talk about this young Kerry team and after they put in two fantastic performances in Munster the confidence might’ve been high. These young fellas wouldn’t have experienced games like last Sunday before so it will be a massive learning curve for them.

Did they believe the hype? Only they can answer that one. But the only way you’re going to learn is playing games like the last day and learning from defeat.

“I guarantee that the next time they’re in a position of coming into a game on the back of a comprehensive win they won’t be getting carried away with things.

“They know now what level is required, they’re playing in the super 8s and they’re playing against the top teams in Division 1 and that experience though humbling will really really stand to them.”

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