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Kennelly can’t help Swans to win

THE green and gold malaise that was the story of the Championship weekend wasn’t merely limited to the borders of the Kingdom.

While Kerry’s defence of the Sam Maguire ended with a whimper at HQ on Saturday afternoon, one of the men that helped guide them to their 2009 glory was suffering a similar fate.

Tadhg Kennelly and Martin Clarke swapped hemispheres last winter, the latter returning home from Australia hoping to spark a Down revival that ignited at Croke Park over the weekend.

However Kennelly’s return to Aussie Rules might not even reach the knock-out stages after his Sydney Swans were crushed at home.

Admittedly the Listowel man was one of the few in red and white who could have left the Sydney Cricket Ground with his head held high after the 125-72 defeat to champions Geelong.

The defender was the Swans’ stand-out performer on a difficult night, leading his side with 24 disposals and turning in a steady, efficient display in a rearguard unit that were put under constant pressure.

His hard work was all in vain however and back-to-back defeats have left Paul Roos’ side clinging by their fingertips to a place in the top eight – the cut-off point for qualification to the end-of-season finals. A daunting run-in has now left them very much susceptible to the surprise packages just below them on the AFL ladder.

Of the chasing pack it is Jim Stynes’ Melbourne that look the most in-form. Having hounded the Swans last weekend, the young, effervescent Demons side went north to Brisbane and outclassed the Lions.

Their president would already have been toasting his native county’s payback job on Tyrone but Melbourne’s hungry side gave him even more to cheer as he continues to bounce back from cancer treatment, accounting for the hosts 74-64 at The Gabba.

Pearce Hanley’s unfortunate record of not having played on a winning Lions side this term continues but the Mayo man had his most effective display in maroon and blue, a timely performance 24 hours after he issued a ‘pick me’ plea to Ireland’s International Rules coach Anthony Tohill.

Meantime Carlton coach Brett Ratten’s continuing omission of Setanta O hAilpín again came back to hurt him as his side were overwhelmed by leaders Collingwood in front of the weekend’s bumper crowd of 76,980 at the MCG.

Ratten promised changes afterwards and O hAilpín did his part, scoring for the Blues’ second-string Northern Bullants in a clash with Tommy Walsh that would have left the All-Ireland winner perhaps the only Kerryman with a smile on his face on the weekend.

His Sandringham side ended a recent losing streak with a hard-fought win over the Bullants.

Walsh was on the score-sheet having started the match at half-forward before later switching into defence.