No let-up in memorable year for Tipperary’s Seamus Kennedy

A Fitzgibbon Cup with Mary I, a Munster football title with Clonmel Commercials, a senior hurling debut with Tipperary — against Cork in a provincial championship match — and all topped up with Munster and All-Ireland medals.

It’s been quite the year for Seamus Kennedy.

He spoke earlier this week about taking stock, letting the madness and the whirligig nature of this last 12 months or so sink in.

But life trundles on, even for All-Ireland champions, and Kennedy is due in UCC come Monday where a new Masters course in business and economics awaits.

And he’ll have already returned to the field of play by then.

Commercials’ sister club St Mary’s have a Tipperary South Intermediate semi-final to dispute with Kilsheehan-Kilcash tomorrow in Fethard and Kennedy seems baffled by the need to ask if he will be bringing his hurley.

“I will of course. That’s where I’ll start and finish so it will be nice to get back.”

The truth is he just doesn’t know any different.

The last time Kennedy stepped off the hamster wheel was when the Commercials squad was given the bones of three weeks R&R after their All-Ireland quarter-final defeat of Tir Chonaill Gaels in London on December 13. Before that? Pre-Christmas of 2014, probably.

It was then that Kennedy joined up with the county’s senior footballers with whom he soon established a nook on the starting 15, but then the off-season presented the opportunity to try his hand with Michael Ryan’s hurlers.

He couldn’t say no, even if leaving the footballers behind wasn’t painless.

“It was difficult more so (for the fact) that a lot of those guys are from Clonmel — the likes of Mike Quinlivan and Ian Fahey,” he explained.

“And I lived with Bill Maher in college. I’d be such good friends with them that you’d love to be a part of it.

“But I made a call at the end of the year and I had to stick to my guns and thankfully it all kind of paid off.

“But I was absolutely thrilled for the footballers, I was probably their biggest fan up in Croke Park and I was absolutely thrilled for them. Please God they can build on that again.”

He wasn’t at all shocked by their success in his absence. True, Liam Kearns lost a platoon of players, not least Kennedy and Steven O’Brien to the hurlers, but few knew better than the 23-year old what an addition Maher would be or the quality of men such as Quinlivan, Ciaran McDonald and Peter Acheson.

“The work that has been done in Tipperary football the last few years has been unbelievable. Those guys started it themselves when they beat Kerry in a Munster U21 final so I don’t think it was a surprise to anyone. Everyone in the small circle of Tipp football knew the talent that was there.”

There were no guarantees for him under Ryan’s watch. His club football and college hurling commitments restricted Kennedy’s window of opportunity during the league and it was only a concussion to Barry Heffernan that finally offered him a senior debut against Cork that day in early summer.

It could have been very different. O’Brien spent the summer in a frustrating limbo sat on the hurlers’ bench while both sides went about their profitable business. That could have been Kennedy too but the risk was one he was always going to take.

“Anyone who knows me knows that hurling has always been my first love and speaking with the likes of Michael and Ian and Bill they kind of knew that if I got this opportunity that I was going to give the hurling a go. It wasn’t easy.”

No, but it was sure worth it.


Lacemakers in Limerick want to preserve their unique craft for future generations and hope to gain UNESCO heritage status, writes Ellie O’Byrne.Made in Munster: Lace-making a labour of love rather than laborious industry

More From The Irish Examiner