ALL-IRELAND HURLING FINAL PREVIEW

Tipperary's Seamus Kennedy - a role model for club and county hurlers

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Jeddy Walsh

Reporter:

Jeddy Walsh

Email:

jeddy.walsh@nationalist.ie

Seamus Kennedy, St. Mary's Clonmel and Tipperary

Tipperary's Seamus Kennedy in action against Limerick in this year's Munster Senior Hurling Final.

On Sunday next at Croke Park, St. Mary’s (Clonmel) clubman, Seamus Kennedy, will be hoping for a starting position in the Tipperary defence facing Kilkenny in this year’s All-Ireland senior hurling final.

A member of the victorious Tipp team in 2016 -  also against Kilkenny -  the popular hurler and footballer with strong connections to The Nire, Newcastle and Clonmel, will strive to become the first St. Mary’s clubman to capture a second  All-Ireland senior hurling medal. Three years ago Seamus emulated the feat of Donncha Fahey in 2001 who up to then was the only ‘Mary’s Man’ with a coveted Celtic Cross.

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During that 2016 campaign Seamus figured in every minute of Tipp’s championship action; however, this year his opportunities have been much more limited, featuring in just two of the six games so far. He started both the Munster final against Limerick and again against Wexford in that classic semi-final three weeks ago. Based on solid, no-nonsense, do-the-job hurling, Seamus deserves to hold his position to face ‘The Cats’ come 3.30 pm on Sunday.

At the recent press night Seamus was asked did that affect his preparations, is it harder to prepare?

“You’re always there training, and I suppose the panel and team is picked on what’s going on in training, and unfortunately I didn’t get picked a couple of times. But you just have to keep the head down and keep working hard and thankfully I got the nod the last day. It’s up to me in training for the next couple of weeks to hold onto that jersey.

“Obviously you always want to be playing but it’s a very competitive panel that we have at the minute,” added the St. Mary’s clubman.

Admirers of Seamus Kennedy, in either code whether hurling or football, will appreciate exactly what he brings to a team every time he crosses the white line. First and foremost Kennedy is a team player without equal, a teak-tough competitor whose focus is always more on the collective team than his own individual performance. As talented as he undoubtedly is, there is never any swashbuckling or showboating involved, only an honesty and focus in what he gives every time, no matter what the grade.

Kennedy’s formula isn’t anything magical though, it is based on an ethos of  fierce hard work and commitment and has been over many years now. It is an ethos that he proudly carries on and off the field of play. 

While many of his team mates  are hurlers out and out, Seamus is massively accomplished in both codes.

 Among the 26 year-old’s collection are an All-Ireland minor football medal (2011), three county senior football medals with Commercials, a Munster Senior Club medal  (2015), a Fitzgibbon Cup medal with Mary Immaculate (Limerick in 2016), a county intermediate  medal (St Mary’s, 2017) and of course his All-Ireland senior medal.

Also, he has represented his county in both codes all the way through from minor to senior, and after an initial spell with the hurlers under Eamon O’Shea didn’t work out for him, Seamus committed fully to the county footballers for a period before getting the nod from former manager Michael Ryan to re-join the hurling panel.

Having qualified as an Irish teacher in Mary Immaculate in Limerick, a follow-up Masters at UCC  led Seamus down a different career path and for the past two years he has been working for  Dornan Engineering. There his role is in Business Development Ireland.

“Trying to get new work for the company in Ireland is basically what I’m at. The pharmaceutical and data centre sectors are our main areas of work at the minute. Clonmel man Brian Acheson is the main man and has been too good to me in all honesty. Brian has been brilliant to me long before working with Dornan’s as he’s been a massive supporter of Clonmel Commercials and Tipperary over the years as well as the town of Clonmel with regards employment.

 “Dornan employs roughly 1,400 people with a huge Clonmel/surrounding area and Tipperary contingent,” added Seamus.

St. Mary’s club chairman Ger Deely, who himself played for Tipperary in the All-Ireland minor hurling final of 1987, points out what Seamus Kennedy means to the St. Mary’s club and to hurling in  Clonmel.

“St. Mary’s Hurling Club are filled with pride that Seamus is involved in the All-Ireland Final next Sunday. Seamus is a shining example, that through dedication and perseverance your dreams will come true. He is a brilliant role model for the youth of Tipperary and in particular the young club players of St. Mary’s. Seamus contributes greatly to St. Mary’s and is always on hand to coach and inspire the next generation of young hurlers who wish to don the  famed blue and gold jersey,”  said Ger.

“All in St. Mary’s wish Seamus, his family and teammates the very best of luck on Sunday next in Croke Park. Up Tipp,” concluded the St. Mary’s chairman.

Finally, it was put to Seamus about a final against Kilkenny ?

“It’s a new final. Three years on, I don’t know if you can compare it to 2016, or compare it to 2014 or the 2009, 2010 or 2011 finals. I think that this is going to be a game on its own merits. That Kilkenny team has changed a lot, our panel has changed a lot.

“Will it be easy, absolutely not, it’s going to be absolutely savage, it’s an All-Ireland final against Kilkenny but look, it’s great,” concluded Seamus.