Tipperary’s Seamus Kennedy agonised long and hard over his switch from football to hurling, club and county colleague Michael Quinlivan has revealed.
Kennedy has become a regular for the Tipp hurlers, who play Galway in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final, but may be experiencing mixed emotions as he left behind a football team that’s thriving and making history.
Kennedy was a half-back for the Tipp footballers last year and won a Munster football medal alongside Quinlivan with Clonmel Commercials.
But he decided to throw in his lot with the county senior hurlers this year and while he’s now a Munster medallist and a regular in the defence, he’s missed the football team’s march to a first All-Ireland semi-final since 1935.
Quinlivan is a big reason why Tipp have made such strides and was yesterday rewarded for his excellent form at full-forward with the GAA/GPA Opel All Stars Player of the Month award for July.
“Seamus is one of my best friends, the two of us grew up together,” said Quinlivan.
“He actually rang me when Michael Ryan gave him the call to play hurling and two of us went and talked about it.
“What Seamus said was that he didn’t want to be 35 looking back and saying, ‘what if?’.
“But I always had the faith in his ability. He never seemed to get the rub of the green in the past with the hurlers. This year he’s just been rock solid and I’m hoping it keeps going for him this weekend.
“The thing people don’t realise is because we are so close as a football group, he was walking away from a lot of the lads he had grown up with.
“It was a very, very tough decision for himself and Steven O’Brien or any of the rest of them that decided to step away and not be involved this year.
“We’re not a bitter group at all. We wished them all the best straight off at the time and we keep doing that. At the end of the day, Seamus is still playing for Tipperary and that’s the main thing.”
The hope in Tipp football circles is that this season won’t prove to be a one-off flash in the pan run of form.
Wexford reached the All-Ireland semi-finals in 2008 and Kildare in 2010 yet neither have been back since.
Quinlivan hopes that if the plan for Championship reform which was proposed recently by Paraic Duffy, the GAA director general, is adopted, that Tipp will qualify regularly for the suggested new group stage for the top eight teams.
“That’s obviously the hope and I think we’ve probably given hope to a lot of teams battling around Division 2, 3 and even Division 4 that they can get to the last eight of the Championship,” said Quinlivan.
“They’ll be looking at Tipp, a Division 3 team this year, and saying ‘why not us?’”
Duffy accepted that his proposal was ‘modest’ and Quinlivan suggested that it may be a starting point for wider reform similar to the group format proposed by the Gaelic Players Association (GPA) earlier this year.
“Look, I was with the GPA when they did their proposal and the main thing that came out of it is that there is no silver bullet, no one proposal is going to be the be-all and end-all,” he said.
“The GAA’s proposal is progressive, that is what I like about it.
“It is a change and for an organisation that in the past has been very slow to change, it is very good that we have started the process.
“Hopefully, from this, there might be a tweak. The first generation of every proposal is not what comes out at the end but it is a start and that is the way I would look at it.”
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