Síofra O’Shea ready to make up for lost time as Kerry return to the top

New county captain recovered from serious injury and set to drive on from an encouraging 2022

A big year beckons for Kerry after major progress in 2022. For 20-year-old Síofra O’Shea, the fact that she’s up and running at the start of the new season is particularly gratifying after a hard couple of years, disrupted by having to recover from serious injury.

Adding to a general sense of anticipation is the captaincy, for which she was nominated by her club, Kerry champions Southern Gaels.

O’Shea didn’t miss everything last year and returned for the Munster final defeat by Cork. The championship played out encouragingly even if a first All-Ireland final in 10 years ended in a chastening defeat by champions Meath. She was able to snipe a couple of points and take from the experience.

Significant achievement

Earlier in the season, as rehab progressed after a cruciate injury in June 2021, she was an onlooker as Kerry won the Division 2 league title — a significant achievement after two successive final defeats.


“We’ve been trying for a few years to get out of Division 2 and it was a big step to win that final against Armagh. Now we’re back up competing against the best, week in and week out.

“The All Ireland run we just took it game by game and it landed us in a final. Inside our camp, we always had that aim and we fell short. But we weren’t really surprised. Outside the camp, people were probably surprised but we knew the work we were doing and the progress we were making.”

Kerry women have much the same traditions as the county’s men. They top (albeit) jointly the All-Ireland roll of honour even if it is 30 years this year since the last win and set the record of nine successive victories. Strangely, apart from a three-in-a-row in common in 1984-86, their championships haven’t coincided — a segregation maintained last July.

“Last year when we were both going to the last day of the competition. Our All-Irelands were a week apart and the support around the county was unbelievable There was posters and banners everywhere and on those banners it was the girls and the men together. It was very supportive and increased the visibility, to see girls on these massive banners around the county.”

She is encouraged by the integration process currently under way between the GAA and the women’s Gaelic games organisations.

“The talks going on at the moment are encouraging. I hope for the future it can become a thing because it can only be a positive. We all want the same supports. We all want the same thing which is to play football at the highest level and just want it to be equal.”

Training non-stop

O’Shea is about to enter a busy phase. Kerry open their Division 1 account on Sunday against Waterford and the O’Connor Cup for third-level colleges isn’t far behind for the PE and maths student at University of Limerick.

“It starts February 9th and it’s only running for a month. The finals are 10th and 11th March. I’m kind of used to being busy and training non-stop because I play basketball as well. When you’re in school you’re training school and club and county football so I’m kind of used to it.”

She doesn’t see the county captaincy making a big difference to her intercounty career, although delighted with the honour.

“Not a major difference, just a few extras but the amount of experienced girls in our dressingroom like Louise Ní Muirchearthaigh, Lorraine Scanlon and Anna Galvin who’s been captain for the last few years. She lives in Derrynane where I’m from so I’ve been looking up to her for years.

“Anna and Louise are the vice-captains and will be supporting me, like all the other girls, throughout the year.”

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times