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'This modern game doesn't suit old fellas any more!' - Cork player Kelly hopes to cure injury woes

The Ballincollig forward returned to his best against Longford.

Cork footballer Patrick Kelly
Cork footballer Patrick Kelly
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

IT WAS IAN Maguire’s goal that finally killed off Longford’s challenge for Cork last Saturday week but the supplier of the pass was crucial from Cork’s point of view.

Patrick Kelly’s assist was the centre piece of his second-half cameo in their Round 3B qualifier win but his fingerprints were all over Cork’s revival after he was sprung from the bench.

Cork selector Eoin O’Neill described him afterwards as a ‘genius’ while ex-Dublin player Mossy Quinn had a perfect view of that 60th minute goal in his role as Off The Ball sideline reporter in Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in Longford.

“What Paddy Kelly and Alan O’Connor did there, that’s one of the best goals you’re going to see all year.

“That’s absolutely brilliant. Paddy Kelly disguised, looked like he was going to pull the trigger for a point and put a pinpoint pass right into Ian Maguire’s hands.”

The contributions of Kelly and O’Connor were also honed in on by Newstalk pundit David Brady after the Longford match.

“We asked where were the leaders for Cork before the game? There’s two guys that stood out.

“O’Connor for the whole game with his work rate and his ethos. And Paddy Kelly for his pure and utter skill.”

In O’Connor’s case, the initial decision to retire in November 2013 and a serious knee injury suffered against Kildare last July have curtailed his involvement.

For Kelly it’s been difficult to get out on the pitch to play due to a troublesome hip injury. Since the start of 2013, Cork have played 15 senior football championship games and Kelly has only started four of them while he didn’t feature at all in five games.

2013

  • Munster SFC v Limerick – Started, taken off
  • Munster SFC v Clare - Started, taken off
  • Munster SFC v Kerry – Didn’t play
  • All-Ireland SFC v Galway – Came on as a sub
  • All-Ireland SFC v Dublin - Didn’t play

Patrick Kelly and John Hayes Patrick Kelly (left) in action in the 2013 Munster semi-final against Clare Source: James Crombie/INPHO

2014

  • Munster SFC v Tipperary – Started, taken off
  • Munster SFC v Kerry – Taken off
  • All-Ireland SFC v Sligo – Didn’t play
  • All-Ireland SFC v Mayo – Came on as a sub

Patrick Kelly and George Hannigan Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

2015

  • Munster SFC v Clare – Came on as a sub
  • Munster SFC draw v Kerry - Came on as a sub
  • Munster SFC replay v Kerry – Started
  • All-Ireland SFC v Kildare – Didn’t play

Killian Young and Marc O’Se tackle Patrick Kelly Patrick Kelly challenged by Kerry duo Killian Young and Marc Ó Sé in last year's Munster final replay Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

2016

  • Munster SFC v Tipperary – Didn’t play
  • All-Ireland SFC v Limerick – Came on as a sub
  • All-Ireland SFC v Longford – Came on as a sub

The Cork Team Pa Kelly (centre front row) before Cork's game with Longford Source: Tom Beary/INPHO

“It’s just the hips, the whole time,” outlines Kelly.

“I had two hip operations there a couple years ago. It’s just the hard running and stuff. It’s hard to keep fit with it.

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“This modern game doesn’t suit old fellas any more! It’s nice to get on because you’d be frustrated when you’re not getting on and you’re not starting.

“I played no league this year. It feels pretty good now the last couple of months. But the modern game is up and down the pitch. It’s about trying to get as fit as possible and seeing can I get in.

“The last couple  of years I’ve had spells where I’ve been pretty fit. But again fit in training is one thing, but when you’re not getting the championship games, it’s hard to throw a fella in.”

Kelly has returned to a squad that has been infused with youth this year with five members of the U21 side that reached the April All-Ireland final against Mayo, having already seen senior summer action.

“The modern game is all about speed and power and fitness. The lads have that in abundance.

“They’ve no baggage either, which is big. They’re mad keen. They’ll go out with no nerves and no inhibitions.

“It’s good for Cork football that these lads are getting a taste for it. The future is bright if they keep at it.”

Peadar Healy Cork manager Peadar Healy after their game against Longford Source: Tom Beary/INPHO

Cork could do with a boost given they have been battered by knocks in recent seasons. There were flashes of promise in the second-half against Longford and they’ll need to sustain that for the whole game against Donegal on Saturday.

“We just went for it,” recalls Kelly of the Longford match.

“It was do or die, I think lads had no choice. this team is new. It’s got a lot of setbacks and stuff.

“Things aren’t as set so you hope as the games go on, the teams gets more settled and confident in itself.

“A lot of young fellas have very little experience of winning championship games with Cork. These are going to be a huge experience for them.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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