The Kerry footballer has spent much of the week rowing back on his confession he intentionally charged into Nicholas Murphy at the start of last month’s All-Ireland football final, issuing a statement on Tuesday night which went into some detail on the subject.
For the record, last weekend, in an excerpt from his autobiography published in a Sunday paper, Kennelly admitted he had set out to put down a marker in the All-Ireland final by charging into the first Cork player he could, which turned out to be Nicholas Murphy, whom he caught with a shoulder to the jaw in the opening seconds of the game.
Subsequently Kennelly said: “I gave an interview to the Australian ghost writer Scotty Gallon.
“I didn’t read it over as I should have, and the first account I saw of the incident was on last Sunday morning.
“Scotty used an expression ‘cop that’ to describe my feelings immediately after I connected with Nicholas. I said no such thing.
“The challenge, I admit, was over the top. I was too pumped up.”
It’s a little bit late for Kennelly to start finessing his position. Claiming he had no intention of injuring anyone while simultaneously admitting he caught Murphy with his shoulder on the jaw, an extremely dangerous challenge, undercuts subsequent protestations of innocence more than somewhat.
It also undercuts something else: a county’s reputation.
This newspaper has been contacted by several Kerry natives wishing to express their disappointment with Kennelly, while on the county’s biggest GAA internet messageboard the reaction early in the week was also been overwhelmingly negative.
Even his manager, Jack O’Connor (himself no stranger to, er, autobiography-based controversy) said it was “not the Kerry way”.
Kennelly’s team-mates will not have had their hearts gladdened by his admissions either, as evidenced by his pointed reference to Paul Galvin in the original text, which carried a whiff of implication, though the former AFL star moved swiftly to exonerate of his team-mate in his statement.
AS of next year’s league, referees all over the country will be spending a fraction of a second longer weighing up whether accidental collisions and borderline tackles by the team in green and gold are intentional or not.
Their opponents may not be inclined to grant even a momentary benefit of the doubt.
If the row casts a shadow over what appeared to be fairy-tale story of All-Ireland success, that’s unfortunate.
If it leads to confrontations on the field of play, that would be truly unfortunate.
Kennelly may also suffer because of what is happening in another sport: we’ve been hearing rugby pundits for some time ponder “intent” when it comes to controversial incidents, citing legal problems in establishing a player’s intentions when placing his feet or fingers.
Intention isn’t an issue when you round off your description with “cop that”.
What we would really like to know, however, is the reaction of a man in the southeast of the country.
As Brian Cody sips his coffee and leafs through his Examiner this morning, he might ponder that Kerry’s footballer of the year, Paul Galvin, was suspended for most of last season and sent off in this year’s Munster football final replay.
Their totemic midfielder, Darragh O Sé, came under scrutiny following an incident against Meath in the All-Ireland semi-final.
The internal suspension of two more players, both former Footballers of the Year, was well publicised.
And now a player employed as a coach by the Kerry County Board admits a premeditated assault on an opponent at the start of the All-Ireland final.
One can imagine the Kilkenny manager putting his newspaper down with a frown to muse aloud: and they said my team were playing on the edge?
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: MikeMoynihanEx