Kerry forward Sean O'Shea says that the recent retirements which have hit the county can pave the way for the younger members of the panel to develop into team leaders.

The Kingdom lost four stalwarts last year, with Kieran Donaghy, Darran O'Sullivan, Donnchadh Walsh and Anthony Maher all bringing the curtain down on their inter-county careers.

The quartet all enjoyed fruitful careers in the green and gold jersey and experienced All-Ireland success along the way. But O'Shea insists that those losses in personnel can ultimately lead to new opportunities for other players in the team.

"There’s been four notable retirements," the 20-year-old told RTÉ Sport. "It’s a younger squad than usual but us younger lads would want to be stepping up into leadership roles now too.

"Every night training there it is competitive, just battling to get on the team for the league, no one takes the foot off the pedal at all.

"Whenever you get called into Kerry, you’d be nervous about it the first night. Having the few fellas there that you knew and would talk to.

"You could pop a message at them to see what the craic was like, to see what the set up was like aswell. That helps to guide you through the first few sessions and that too."

Former Kerry star Kieran Donaghy.

O'Shea made his championship bow for Kerry last summer as they eased past Clare in the Munster SFC semi-final before going on to defeat Cork in the decider to claim their sixth provincial title on the bounce.

The Kenmare attacker was among an exciting group of seven talented youngsters making the breakthrough for Kerry against the Banner, including the eventual Young Footballer of the Year David Clifford.

That injection of youth indicates a bright future for Kerry football, but it also reminds O'Shea that there's still competition for places despite those notable losses in the panel.

"Kerry is known for producing forwards. It's tough and you always have to be on your toes in training trying to get a jersey or hold onto a jersey. You're playing with some of the best forwards in the country."

Kerry will go into 2019 under new management following the appointment of Peter Keane in October. The Cahersiveen native takes over from Eamonn Fitzmaurice, who stepped down from the position on the back of Kerry's exit from the championship.

Keane comes into the role having guided the Kingdom to three All-Ireland minor crowns on the bounce after succeeding Jack O'Connor in 2016, and his management team includes Donie Buckley, Maurice Fitzgerald, Tommy Griffin and James Foley.

Sean O'Shea after Kerry's victory in the 2018 Munster SFC final.

"He's been there on All-Ireland final day and he's got that experience," says O'Shea.

"I had a year [of] minor with Peter so I know him well enough. He's very good and looks after us very well. He has a good backroom team around him and it's good, I'm looking forward to it.

"Eamonn was great. Eamonn gave me my first start in both the league and the championship so I owe a lot to Eamonn. All the finer details, he really looked after them.

"Things didn’t really work out for us last year, [that was down to] the performances from the players more than anything else. The backroom team was exceptional. They looked after every last detail. They prepared for everything so professionally and it was great to be in that environment."

O'Shea is studying his final year of an Arts degree in UCC at the moment, with a view to completing a Masters and pursuing a career in teaching in the future.

This could be one of his last years to attempt winning the Sigerson Cup with the Munster college, and they will open their 2019 campaign with a tie against Athlone IT later this month.

"It's massive, it's tough to get a Sigerson Cup medal," says an eager O'Shea.

"Not many fellas in Kerry have them so it would be something you'd be looking forward to. You go to UCC and the main thing there is the history and the tradition of football and hurling.

"To try and win a Sigerson would be huge."