Kennelly: I’m going home after 2009

THE numbers of Gaelic footballers seeking glory in the AFL may be at an all-time high but the most successful Irish import of all, Tadhg Kennelly, yesterday reaffirmed his intention to return home at the end of the next season.

With the Sydney Swans 2009 campaign due to end in August or September — depending on results — that would leave Kennelly with time to reacquaint himself with his natural code before Kerry embark on their 2010 campaign

“I always said I wanted to go home and play Gaelic football and do what my dad and brother have done, win premierships back at home,” Kennelly told Australia’s Fox Sports News.

“That is in the back of my mind. I have a year left on my contract and as it stands, that’s it. I am going to make the most of it, really soak up the season and enjoy being at the football club.”

Kennelly was speaking on the same day as it was reported that Kerry youngsters Tommy Walsh and David Moran would be flying down under to go on trial with St Kilda later this month.

The only Irishman to win an AFL Premiership winner’s medal, the Listowel native has been the most successful convert to the oval ball game from these shores since Jim Stynes.

However, though his star continues to shine in Australia, he has been seriously hampered by injuries in recent times as the effects of eight years playing professionally take their toll.

No stranger to the operating theatre, he underwent surgery again in the present off-season, with work being done this time on his groin and shoulder after the Swans were eliminated from the pennant chase by the Western Bulldogs.

Kennelly played 22 games in 2008 but was plagued by a shoulder that continued to dislocate.

The frustrating complaint led to Kennelly calling on fellow backman Leo Barry to “pop” the joint back in, a task beyond his premiership teammate.

“He’s got a solicitors letter coming from me for malpractice. It wasn’t the smartest thing in the world but it didn’t cause any damage, thank God,” Kennelly joked.

But he revealed he has returned to pre season sooner than expected: “The best thing about it is I am doing all the running at the moment. It’s something I haven’t been able to do for the past few years because of knee problems. It’s quite funny to be running in November, normally I wouldn’t be running until January.”

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