The Kildangan clubman from North Tipperary was offered the Kingdom’s reins but it was only after a conversation with former All-Ireland winning manager Sheedy that he decided to commit.
“We’re very good friends and have been since we were 14 years of age and Liam said to me ‘I’m telling you there’s a few gears left in these fellas’,” said Kelly.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t see the potential in these players. I am a passionate hurling man. The worst thing that I could do is to sit at home and I can’t watch television. My wife has been giving out to me because all I have been doing is watching DVDs of Kerry county finals and league matches from the past few years.”
However, bringing in the recently retired Cummins as his goalkeeping coach will be seen as a real coup. “Look I love a challenge and this certainly is a challenge and it will take very managerial skill that I have and maybe that of others as well. We need to keep everything professional. We have Brendan Cummins coming down to us as a goalkeeping coach, we’ll be using other guys also, we need to keep this fresh and I would be using anything I have in the bag to get the best of the players.”
Kelly also pointed to positive developments in Kerry hurling like Causeway’s victory over Nenagh CBS in the Munster U16½ final and the work he has seen at underage level in Lixnaw. However, to complete his goals, he wants to hold the job for a while to put long-term plans in place. “I came in here with an open mind, despite the fact that you could read a lot into the fact that a lot of managers have come and gone over a short period of time.
“But I was concentrating on the future and I would be thinking a two or a three-year plan, with the good fellows that done well at minor and U21 levels, and try and bring these fellows through.”
To that aim, he has brought in highly-regarded coach Brian Horgan.
“We would have met at club level and intercounty level at the past. Brian sees this as an opportunity be involved with an intercounty team and both of us are coming down here to try and get these guys going and maintain out status in Division 2A and do as well as we can in the Christy Ring Cup. Brian is a top-class coach and I definitely think that he will coach the Tipperary senior team in years to come.
“I think that it is a stepping stone along the way.”
Meanwhile John Egan has been named Kerry hurling captain for 2014. Egan was nominated by county senior hurling champions St Brendan’s and Darren Dineen will be his vice captain.