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Byline: Jackie CAHILL

IT feels just like starting over for Kerry star Barry O'Shea whose romance with the county team has been well and truly rekindled.

The perfect New Year's present is a return to duty for tonight's floodlit Allianz Football League opener away to Cork at Pairc Ui Rinn.

And educated Kerry fans will be heartened by his return.

First of all, O'Shea's recall has come on the back of some sensational form with Kerins O'Rahilly's who ended a 45-year famine by landing the 2002 Kerry county title.

Second, if O'Shea can produce on a consistent enough basis to hang onto the number three shirt for the championship, then Seamus Moynihan can be deployed further outfield where most Kingdom fans believe he would be much more effective.

O'Shea's 2001 was completely wiped out by the injury every player fears - the cruciate.

A return to the Kerry panel was a formality when he returned to full fitness, but boss Paidi O'Se went with the tried and trusted Moynihan at the edge of the square.

Things went well until Armagh sensation Ronan Clarke terrorised Moynihan for periods during last September's All-Ireland final.

O'Shea made only a brief appearance in that defeat and sources close to the player suggested he might pack it in completely.

But Kerins O'Rahilly's historic Kerry success left the door open for either O'Shea or Declan Quill to captain the county in 2003.

O'Shea spotted the gap - and went for it.

Eamon Fitzmaurice has suffered a dip in form coupled with injury giving O'Shea his big chance.

Moynihan has been moved to centre back and O'Shea resumes at full-back and has nabbed the skipper's armband ahead of attacker Quill.

"It is nice to be starting first of all and the captaincy is a bonus," said O'Shea. "It is only the start of the year and there is a long way to go yet.

"There's a long year ahead so we will have to wait and see - nut it is nice to be playing and hopefully I can stay there."

All eyes fall on Pairc Ui Rinn this evening for a number of reasons.

It's the very first league game under lights, Paidi returns to the touchline after all the controversy, the game's on television and of course it's Kerry against Cork.

"It's hard to know what way things will go because we are just home from holidays," explained O'Shea.

"It's hard to know how we will play to be honest. We have not played a serious game against anyone else, only some games within training, so it is hard to know how we will play on the night. …