Kennelly savours All-Ireland triumph

Kerry's Tadhg Kennelly became the first player to win both an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final and an Australian Football League Premiership final yesterday, thanks to the Kingdom's 0-16 to 1-9 victory over Cork at Croke Park.

This four-point victory was greeted with Kennelly's customary jig on the presentation podium, with 15 of his former Sydney Swans team-mates among the 82,286-strong crowd at GAA headquarters.

The Listowel man famously performed the jig for the first time in the aftermath of Sydney's defeat of the West Coast Eagles in the 2005 AFL decider.

His Sydney colleagues joined the Kerry celebrations in Ballsbridge last night to toast the Kingdom's 36th All-Ireland SFC triumph.

It was a feeling of disbelief as Kennelly summed up the victory, after emulating the All-Ireland successes of his late father Tim and older brother Noel.

"It hasn't really sunk in. I have only really been thinking about my father to tell you the truth," he said. "I am a very, very happy man."

And while Kennelly was in shock at this All-Ireland final victory, he also recognised how lucky he was to secure a Celtic Cross medal in his first year back on Irish soil.

"I'm very, very lucky to come back in my first year and to reach an All-Ireland final. Personally, the years haven't been too easy over there."

This battle-hardened Kerry side answered their critics yesterday with a gutsy performance. Having trailed by 1-3 to 0-1 early on, they launched a determined comeback.

Kennelly was one of the central figures in this Kerry resurgence and he praised his teammates for the character and resolve shown.

"We knew Cork would come at us and whether we went one goal down or two goals down, we were going to stick to it.

"And that's what happened - we were four or five points down and we ended up being three points up at half-time," added the 28-year-old.

"It's the great character of the team. There's great experience and a great bunch of lads out there. There's an awful lot thrown at them. They were knocked so much throughout the years and again this year. To do what we have is absolutely unbelievable.

"Darragh O Se and Jack O'Connor said it numerous times before the game, we have a plan and we'll stick to it. There is great character in the team. We stuck to the plan and we stuck to what we knew."

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