TADHG KENNELLY’S first appearance on an AFL scoresheet for 22 months wasn’t enough to help Sydney Swans avoid a shock defeat to lowly Richmond yesterday.
The Swans came up just short in a truly exhilarating contest as the Tigers snatched a late lead at the cavernous MCG and secured a win that lifts them off the bottom of the league table – where they have sat since the opening round in March.
Kennelly was returning from a knee injury that ruled him out of the Swans’ defeat to Collingwood last time but his return – and a much improved performance from the red and white – wasn’t enough to see them stop the slide.
The Kerryman hadn’t seen his name in lights on a scoreboard since the September 2008 semi-final defeat to the Western Bulldogs – his last game before his single-season stint in the green and gold of the Kingdom.
But in his 11th game back in Aussie Rules, he broke that barren run when he charged forward for a one-point behind just before the half-time hooter. It gave Paul Roos’ side a 42-30 interval lead which they extended soon after the break, going 33 points clear.
But a late revival from the financially stricken Tigers had the majority of the 39,386 crowd on their feet and a brace at the death from Andrew Collins sealed a 89-85 victory, a fourth win out of five for a side who lost their first nine games of the campaign.
By his usual standards, Kennelly was quiet, amassing only 13 disposals and he was part of a defence that clearly irked Roos, who lamented his side’s failure to hold onto such a commanding lead.
“We turned a couple over late in the third quarter to let them back in, they got confidence and then momentum which is a huge thing in footy,” said the veteran coach, who pulled no punches with his team now clinging to a top eight play-off position by their fingernails.
“At the moment we’re a bottom team so I don’t think you can worry about the eight. It shows where we’re at. There’s no use sugar coating it. We lose to the team that’s on the bottom that’s where you are at that particular point in time.”
It was an Aussie Rules weekend to forget for the Irish overall with Michael Quinn’s return to the top flight providing a harsh reminder of the jump in class from the VFL to the Premiership.
The Longford tyro was elevated to the senior side by Essendon coach Matthew Knights for Saturday’s clash with the Crows in Adelaide.
But Quinn and the rest of the injury-ravaged Bombers’ defence was cut to shreds by the rampant home side who soared to victory by a massive 84 points, 124-40.
Meanwhile Tommy Walsh was able to savour yet another superb individual outing but, on a collective level at least, he suffered the same fate as his fellow exiles. The Kerryman’s Sandringham side – St Kilda’s second string – went down 171-55 to Williamstown in the VFL but Walsh caught the eye again, chipping in with another goal and named as one of the best players on show as his steady development in the sport continues.
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