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Michael "Mikey" Sheehy (born 28 July 1954) is an Irish Gaelic football selector and former player. His league and championship career with the Kerry senior team spanned fifteen seasons from 1973 to 1988. Sheehy is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game.
|Irish name||Mícheál Ó Síthigh|
28 July 1954|
Tralee, County Kerry Ireland
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|*Inter County team apps and scores correct as of 18:49, 8 November 2016.|
Born in Tralee, County Kerry, Sheehy was born into a strong Gaelic football family. His father, Jim Sheehy, had played with the Laune Rangers club in his youth. Sheehy first played competitive Gaelic football during his schooling at Tralee CBS. He first appeared for the Austin Stacks club at underage levels, before winning an All-Ireland medal with the senior team in 1977. Sheehy also won one Munster medal and five county club championship medals.
Sheehy made his debut on the inter-county scene at the age of sixteen when he was picked on the Kerry minor team. He enjoyed two championship seasons with the minors, however, he was a Munster runner-up on both occasions. Sheehy subsequently joined the Kerry under-21 team, winning two All-Ireland medals in 1973 and 1975. By this stage he had also joined the Kerry senior team, making his debut during the 1973-74 league. Over the course of the next fifteen seasons, Sheehy won eight All-Ireland medals, beginning with a lone triumph in 1975, a record-equalling four championships in-a-row from 1978 to 1981 and three championships in-a-row from 1984 to 1986. He also won eleven Munster medals, three National Football League medals and was named Footballer of the Year in 1979. He played his last game for Kerry in July 1987.
After being chosen on the Munster inter-provincial team for the first time in 1976, Sheehy was an automatic choice on the starting fifteen for the following seven years. During that time he won five Railway Cup medals.
In retirement from playing Sheehy became involved in team management and coaching. In 2012 he was appointed as a selector with the Kerry senior team. Since then he has helped steer the team to one All-Ireland title and four successive Munster titles.
Even during his playing days Sheehy came to be recognised as one of the greatest players of all time. He was named in the right corner-forward position on the Football Team of the Century in 1984. Sheehy was one of only two players from the modern era to be named on that team. He switched to the left-corner forward position when he was named on the Football Team of the Millennium in 1999. Sheehy also won seven All-Stars, while his tally of eight All-Ireland medals, albeit one as a non-playing substitute, is also a record which he shares with fellow Kerry players Páidí Ó Sé, Pat Spillane and Denis "Ógie" Moran. His scoring tally of 29-205 was a record which stood for 25 years.
Sheehy played his club football with the local club, Austin Stacks, in Tralee. He won his first county senior championship title with the club in 1973, following a defeat of West Kerry. It was the beginning of a hugely successful period for Sheehy and his club. A second county winners' medal followed two years later, in 1975, following a win over Mid Kerry. Austin Stacks retained their title in 1976 before later representing the county in the provincial club series, and even reaching the final. A narrow 1–7 to 0–8 defeat of the famous St. Finbarr's club gave Sheehy a Munster club winners' medal. He later lined out in Croke Park for the All-Ireland final against Ballerin of Derry. The Ulster champs took an early lead, courtesy of two first-half goals. Sheehy, however, turned out to be the hero. Two late points, one from an acute line-ball and one from a 45-metre free, gave Austin Stacks a 1–13 to 2–7 win and gave Sheehy an All-Ireland club winners' medal.
Minor and under-21Edit
By the early 1970s, Sheehy had joined the Kerry minor football team; however, he had no success in this grade, as Cork dominated the provincial championship. He quickly progressed onto the Kerry under-21 team, where he captured a Munster title in 1973, following a one-goal defeat of Cork. Sheehy's side later qualified for the All-Ireland final with Mayo providing the opposition. A 2–13 to 0–13 score line gave Kerry the victory, and gave Sheehy an All-Ireland winners' medal.
Two years later, in 1975, Sheehy secured a second Munster title, following a nine-point trouncing of Waterford. Kerry later qualified for the All-Ireland final with Dublin providing the opposition. A 1–15 to 0–10 score line gave Kerry the victory, and gave Sheehy a second All-Ireland under-21 winners' medal.
Sheehy made his senior inter-county debut for Kerry in the 1973–1974 National Football League campaign. The men from 'the Kingdom' reached the final of the competition and recorded a victory, following a replay, over Roscommon. Sheehy retained his place as a substitute for Kerry's unsuccessful Munster Championship campaign.
In 1975 a new-look Kerry team was formed under the management of former player Mick O'Dwyer. It was the beginning of a glorious era for Kerry football, and Sheehy played a key role in orchestrating much of the success for the team that would come to be regarded as the greatest of all-time. That year he won his first senior Munster title, dethroning Cork as provincial champions in the process. Sheehy later lined out in his first senior All-Ireland final. Reigning champions Dublin provided the opposition, and were installed as the red-hot favourites over the youngest Kerry team of all-time. On a rain-soaked day, John Egan and substitute Ger O'Driscoll scored two goals, and 'the Dubs' were ambushed by 2–12 to 0–11. It was Sheehy's first All-Ireland winners' medal at senior level.
In 1976 Sheehy captured his second Munster title, before later lining out in his second All-Ireland final. Once again it was Dublin who provided the opposition. Both sides were hoping for success; however, new 'Dub' Kevin Moran was causing havoc with the Kerry defence. Jimmy Keaveney converted a penalty to help Dublin to a 3–8 to 0–10 victory and defeat for Spillane.
1977 proved to be another frustrating year. The year began with Sheehy capturing a second National League medal on the field of play, and a third consecutive Munster title following another win over Cork. Kerry later took on Dublin for the third consecutive year; however, this time it was in the All-Ireland semi-final. In one of the greatest games of football ever-played, the 'Dubs' triumphed, and Sheehy was still left waiting for a second All-Ireland medal.
In 1978, Kerry faced little competition in the provincial championship once again. A defeat of Cork gave Sheehy a fourth Munster winners' medal in-a-row. Kerry later qualified for a third All-Ireland final in four years. Old rivals Dublin provided the opposition; however, the game turned into a rout. The game is chiefly remembered for Sheehy's sensational goal. The Kerry forward lobbed the ball over the head of Paddy Cullen, who was caught off his line arguing with the referee. New full-forward Eoin Liston scored a hat-trick of goals. Pat Spillane played all over the field, including goalkeeper after Charlie Nelligan was sent off. At the full-time whistle, Kerry were the winners by 5–11 to 0–9.
In 1979, Kerry made it five-in-a-row in Munster, as Cork fell by ten points in the provincial final. Sheehy later went in search of a third All-Ireland medal as he lined out in a fourth championship decider. Dublin provided the opposition for the fifth consecutive occasion. Kerry were handicapped throughout the game. Ger Power did not start the game, while John O'Keeffe got injured, and Páidí Ó Sé was sent off during the encounter. Two goals by Sheehy, and a third by John Egan, helped the 'Kingdom' to a 3–13 to 1–8 victory. It was Sheehy's third All-Ireland winners' medal.
Kerry's dominance continued in 1980. Another defeat of Cork in the provincial final gave Sheehy a sixth Munster winners' medal in succession. Another All-Ireland final appearance beckoned, this time with Roscommon providing the opposition. The Connacht champions shocked Kerry, and took a five-point lead inside the first twelve minutes. Sheehy popped up again to score the decisive goal, as Kerry went on to claim a 1–9 to 1–6 victory in a game that contained sixty-four frees. The victory gave Kerry a third All-Ireland title in succession, while Sheehy added a fourth All-Ireland winners' medal to his ever-growing collection.
In 1981, Sheehy won his seventh consecutive Munster title, before lining out in a fourth consecutive All-Ireland final against Offaly. Kerry had an easy win with seven players combining for a great goal. He captured his fifth All-Ireland winners' medal that day, as Kerry won by 1–12 to 0–8.
In 1982, Sheehy secured an eighth consecutive Munster final victory over Cork, and Kerry's record-breaking five All-Ireland's in-a-row bid remained intact. The championship decider pitted the 'Kingdom' against Offaly for the second year in a row. Kerry had the upper hand for much of the game, and were leading by two points with two minutes left to be played. The game, however, was not over as Offaly substitute Séamus Darby, who had entered the game almost unnoticed, produced the most spectacular of finishes by scoring a late goal. Kerry failed to score again to level the match, and Offaly went on to win their third All-Ireland title ever. Kerry's five-in-a-row dream was shattered.
Kerry missed out on an historic nine-in-a-row in Munster in 1983, as Cork finally triumphed. 'The Kingdom' bounced back the following year with Sheehy winning his third National League medal and his ninth Munster title. The centenary-year All-Ireland final pitted Kerry against old rivals, and reigning champions, Dublin. 'The Kingdom' dominated the game from start to finish. Only two Dublin forwards scored as Kerry ran out easy winners on a score line 0–14 to 1–6. It was Sheehy's sixth All-Ireland winners' medal.
Kerry made no mistake again in 1985. A two-goal victory over Cork gave Sheehy a tenth Munster winners' medal. Another All-Ireland final beckoned, with Dublin providing the opposition for a second consecutive year. Jack O'Shea scored a key goal after eleven minutes, and Kerry stormed to a nine-point lead at half-time. 'The Dubs' came storming back with Joe McNally scoring two goals. The gap could not be bridged, and Kerry won by 2–1 to 2–8. The victory gave Sheehy a record-equalling seventh All-Ireland winners' medal.
In 1986 Kerry's dominance showed no sign of disappearing. Cork fell again in the provincial final, giving Sheehy an eleventh Munster title. A tenth All-Ireland final appearance quickly followed, and it turned out to be an historic occasion. Tyrone provided the opposition in their first-ever Championship decider. A Peter Quinn goal gave the Ulster men a six-point lead in the second-half; however, the game was far from over. Pat Spillane ran fifty yards up the field for a hand-passed goal to get Kerry back on track. Sheehy scored a second goal to give the 'Kingdom' a 2–15 to 1–10 victory. The victory gave Sheehy a third All-Ireland medal in-a-row. It was his eighth All-Ireland winners' medal overall, a record haul of Championship medals and a record that he shares with fellow Kerrymen Páidí Ó Sé, Ger Power, Ogie Moran and Pat Spillane.
The glory days were now over for Kerry, as Cork captured the Munster title following a replay in 1987. With that, Sheehy decided to retire from inter-county football.
Sheehy also lined out with Munster in the inter-provincial football competition, and enjoyed much success. He first lined out with his province in 1976, as Munster defeated Leinster by 2–15 to 2–8. It was his first Railway Cup winners' medal, and the first of three-in-a-row for Sheehy and for Munster. After losing out in 1979 and 1980, Spillane captured a fourth Railway Cup title in 1981. His fifth, and final, Railway Cup title came in 1982
Sheehy was also a talented soccer player in his youth. He had been offered trials with Southampton in the early 70s. He was given a list of fixtures for the Southampton reserve team, and told to travel over any weekend for a trial with the team. There was only one snag: he would have to pay his own way. Sheehy didn't think that was the way to do things, so he turned down the offer. Sheehy played for St. Brendan's Park F.C. in Tralee. Later in the supplement, it is said that he gave up soccer when he broke on to the Kerry senior team.
|1976-77||Division 1 (South)||5||1-18||1||0-03||1||0-07||7||1-28|
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- The GAA Book of Lists p. 418
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- Donegan, Des (2005). The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games. DBA Publications. p. 156.
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- The GAA Book of Lists p. 405
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- The GAA Book of Lists p. 406
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- "Munster Railway Cup Football Teams". Munster GAA. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2009.