by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Ace defender Tadhg Kennelly never made any secret of the fact he one day wanted to return to Ireland and resume a career in Gaelic football. Well, that day has finally come after 10 seasons and a premiership with the Sydney Swans. Kennelly quit the Swans at the end of January and is heading home where he will once again follow in the footsteps of his late father to play for County Kerry. He would also like to emulate his and Sydney's 2005 success and be part of a Kerry team which wins the All-Ireland title. His father Tim, who passed away in 2005, was part of five All-Ireland title Kerry sides. Kennelly also said another deciding factor was the injuries he has suffered over the past several seasons and his fear that had he played one more year for the Swans as originally planned, his body wouldn't hold up for Gaelic football. He also said that, in these difficult financial times, it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do to give up a lucrative professional career in exchange for an amateur one, but he had to "....follow his heart."
Coach Paul Roos had nothing but praise for the 27-year old, referring to Kennelly as an "icon" of the club who would always be welcome. Roos said Kennelly had the support of everyone at the club in his decision and also praised Kennelly's contribution to the club and described the sacrifices Kennelly made in leaving his family and friends to come to Australia as "extraordinary".
While others have preceded Kennelly in making the transition from Gaelic football to Aussie Rules, the most successful being Jim Stynes for Melbourne, Roos believes Kennelly's success had more of an impact in recent times to bring other Irish recruits to Australia. Since Kennelly, seven other Irish players have made the move. Roos said Kennelly was "...a great ambassador for the game...".
Kennelly not only was a skilled Gaelic footballer, but also a 1500 (1640 yards) meter running champion, both of which got the attention of Sydney recruiters. He signed with the Swans in 1999 and was placed on the rookie list. He was elevated to seniors in 2001 and made his debut midseason. He soon developed a reputation as a great running defender who could break the opposition lines and propel the Swans into attack.
At the time of his recruitment, Kennelly not only had to learn the skills of the game, but also had to convince his family. His mother was opposed to the idea of her son chasing a dream of playing professional football on the other side of the world and, according to Kennelly, it took a month for her to come around to the idea. He also copped some flak from his friends. However, he was determined to make his mark in the game and ".... take a screamer....I've...seen it so many times and I have to get up on someone's shoulders and...grab that ball'.
At first it was not easy for Kennelly to learn how to handle the ball, which he referred to as a "rabbit" and he admits that it took some time to get used to it. But he did and still remembers his excitement ahead of his debut. During a pregame interview, he was asked how he felt to which he replied he could die the next day a happy person. Kennelly said that to do what he has done in winning a premiership ...with the best bunch of blokes, has just been amazing..." and that his ten years with the Swans has been great. He gave his thanks to all who have been involved in his career.
158 games, 29 goals (including one in the 2005 Grand Final)
Honors: International Rules 2001-02, 2004, 2006, 2002 Rising Star nominee, 2005 premiership, Sydney Swans Life Membership
Source: Tara White, Club Media Release & abc.net.au
February 7, 2009
Irish defender Setanta O'hAilpin has been suspended by the club after attacking teammate Cameron Cloke during an intra-club game. A remorseful O'hAilpin later apologized to a forgiving Cloke, but the AFL and the club have still taken a dim view of the matter with the league launching their own investigation.
O'hAilpin knocked Cloke to the ground with several punches but he then kicked Cloke while the latter was on the ground. Cloke suffered a black eye as a result of the incident. Coach Brett Ratten described O'hAilpin's actions as "a poor act". O'hAilpin was sent home and the club will consider further action. As a result of the banishment, the hot-headed Irishman will train with the club's VFL affiliate the Northern Bullants and be required to undergo anger management sessions with the club psychologist.
It is not the first time O'hAilpin has been involved in such an incident during practice. In 2007, he and ruckman Cain Ackland got into a wrestling scuffle and had to be separated.
In more bad news, midfielder Andrew Carrazzo suffered a broken arm in the same match and will be sidelined for six weeks.
Source: Melbourne Age
Defender Andrew Welsh suffered a badly broken leg and dislocated ankle during an intraclub match in late January. He required surgery and will miss up to four months. He joins Brent Stanton (quad), Alwyn Davey (knee), Jason Laycock (foot) and Michael Hurley (gall bladder) on the club's injury list.
Source: Melbourne Age
Article last changed on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - 12:24 PM EST