Kilkenny forward Colin Fennelly insists he never felt any added pressure coming from the one of the most famous families in hurling.
All seven Fennelly brothers, including Colin’s father Michael, played for the county, with Liam, Ger, and Kevin winning three All-Irelands apiece, while all seven played in Ballyhale Shamrocks’ three All-Ireland club final wins.
Colin and brother Michael Jr have since won 12 county and six club All-Ireland medals between and Colin says the family name never came as a burden.
Speaking to GAA.ie, he said: “It never did faze us, because you always had great hurlers along with you growing up.
“There was never that divide between you. At Michael’s level, there were so many players, they won so much at underage, and you’re just trying to keep up with them, to be honest. You’d never get ahead of yourself or anything like that. Cha [Fitzpatrick], Michael, John Tennyson, all of that group, it was crazy the talent in that age-group and you were just trying to get up to their standard, really.
“My father and uncles would try to keep your feet on the ground more than anything. They’re great lads to stand in the background and urge the team on. They’re all about the club, so they are. They’d never talk unless you looked for help off them. They’d always say the best of luck before matches coming up, but, apart from that, they’d never get involved or put their foot in where it’s not wanted.”
Colin admits having an older brother like Michael around helped speed his own improvement as a hurler.
“You’d get a lot of pointers off Michael, because he has that experience and knows the way things are.
“I had a lot of speed when I was young, but he would have taken me aside and said, ‘look, your speed won’t be enough for too long. You have to improve on everything else’. Even when I came into the Kilkenny set-up, he gave me a few small tips... and that was very helpful in my first year or two.
“I suppose it has to be in the genes, alright, that you do have that sporting background and it probably comes a small bit easier to you. Your parents push you on a lot too, I suppose, and help you out in any way possible.
“When you’d see how much my dad just loves the club and what it means to him, it would give you that bit of inspiration. It’s probably after All-Irelands, when you really see just how proud he is. It’s not until then that you really notice what it means to him and what it did mean to him over the years.”
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